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Passing of Another Pennsylvania Legend

By Rep. Gary Day (R-Lehigh/Berks)

Within the last couple of weeks, another former governor of Pennsylvania – Gov. William Scranton Jr. – passed away, marking the second such occurrence in the past few months. The loss of loved ones is traumatic for remaining family members, to whom I offer my deepest and sincere sympathy for their loss.

They, as well as all citizens of this Commonwealth, should know that a greatly engaged Pennsylvanian has completed a lifetime of work and service to his community, this Commonwealth, our country and the world. As I have mentioned before, these are the times that people in general seek to evaluate the sum of an individual’s lifetime of works. We should also be introspective and ask ourselves if our accomplishments will include meeting our duty to make ourselves, our family, our community, Commonwealth, country and world better for all.

The specifics of Scranton’s engagements parallel significant and chronicled moments in Pennsylvania and American history. As a congressman, his efforts contributed to civil rights and the Peace Corps. As a presidential contender in 1964, he received 10 state delegation endorsements and perhaps changed the course of American history, and as the governor of Pennsylvania, he created the Community College system, the State Board of Education and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA); lowered unemployment; and helped to write the new Pennsylvania Constitution.

After those public service positions, he honed his knowledge and understanding of private-sector firms, devoting a period of his career back in the private sector. But he continued his legacy of public service with several noteworthy appointments. He chaired the Commission on Campus Unrest, which was dedicated to soothing divisions and reducing violence on college campuses following the national tragedy at Kent State. He was well respected and continually called upon by American presidents including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. He served in the U.S. Secretary of State’s office for Eisenhower, on Ford’s transition team to assume the presidency and played a major role in establishing Reagan’s positions with the Soviet Union -- an impressive gallery of crucial moments in history.

At the end of his gubernatorial term, he, like many Pennsylvania governors, found the opposing party unwilling to work with him to accomplish significant goals, and therefore, he made a pledge that he would not run for office again. Each person must make this decision for himself; the right answer is an individual decision. Collectively, we should support those who decide to continue in elected office, because many great leaders will not pursue political leadership because of the partisan opposition one faces, even in the midst of available solutions to great public debates.

I can identify with many parts of Gov. Scranton’s pathway. Including his private and public career paths, he relied upon a strong educational and experience-rich track to better serve his duty to strengthen himself, his family, community, Commonwealth and country. It is similar to my background of serving in the public and private sectors and applying both experiences and that of being a father to become a well-rounded individual, better prepared to represent our area in Harrisburg. That experience helps me to understand the information to make better decisions for Pennsylvania. The people of my district make a tough job easier by staying engaged and alerting me to various issues that affect their daily lives, so that I am well prepared to engage on their behalf in Pennsylvania’s Capitol.

Thank you, Gov. Scranton, for your enduring legacy to public service, and may others follow in your footsteps. May God cradle your spirit and bless this Commonwealth and country.

Representative Gary Day
187th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Jennifer Keaton
717.705.2094 /
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