My short list of liberal politicians I admire is shorter by one with the death Thursday of Reubin Askew, Florida’s governor from 1971 to 1979. Askew not only provided competent leadership in difficult times for a growing state, he did so with absolute integrity. Personally he was always civil and humble and treated all he encountered respectfully. Character counts, and Reubin Askew had it.
Askew died Thursday in a Tallahassee hospital of complications from pneumonia and a stroke. He was 85. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Donna Lou Askew, and two children.
Askew was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but moved with his mother to Pensacola, Florida, when Reubin was nine. After high school Askew spent two years in the Army as a paratrooper, being discharged as a sergeant. After college at Florida State and law school at Florida, Askew again served his country, this time as an Air Force intelligence officer during the Korean war. After this it was the practice of law and one of Florida’s most remarkable political careers.