Life of Rep. John Dingell celebrated at funeral services in Dearborn

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 5:31pm

Friends and family of former U.S. Rep. John Dingell honor his life at funeral services in Dearborn, Michigan Tuesday.

Friends and family of former U.S. Rep. John Dingell honor his life at funeral services in Dearborn, Michigan Tuesday. Buy this photo
Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press

Friends, family and several prominent politicians braved icy conditions to honor the life of former U.S. Rep. John Dingell at funeral services in Dearborn, Mich.

The longest-serving member of Congress in history and spouse of U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., passed away last week at the age of 92. John Dingell had a heart attack in September and had been battling cancer, though the exact cause of death has not yet been released.

Several politicians, including former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., were expected to speak at the services. However, though Biden made it in time, the harsh weather conditions prevented planes carrying Lewis, Upton and Speaker Nancy Pelosi from landing. Ninety members of Congress were expected to attend, however only a third made it to the service.


Despite weather delays, funeral services carried on with a liturgy from Rev. Terrence Kerner, who said John Dingell wished for a celebratory yet respectful service. Kerner said John Dingell was about fighting for the ordinary man, and shared stories from constituents whose lives were bettered by his policies. “But I think when a common man knew John Dingell, he probably felt he was uncommon,” Kerner said.

In a lighthearted eulogy, Biden said John Dingell was one of the few politicians he looked up to as an outspoken champion of health care and labor rights. He said it was John Dingell’s belief that every single person deserves dignity that made him a successful legislator.

“Dignity was how John walked,” Biden said. “Dignity was how John talked. Dignity was how John carried himself. And more than that, it was how he treated everyone — and I mean everyone.”

Thursday, more funeral services will be held in Washington, D.C., where former President Bill Clinton and former Speaker John Boehner are expected to speak.