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Former Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, died Thursday at his home at the age of 87.
Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving senator who spent 36 years and six terms in the upper chamber, had lung cancer since he was diagnosed at 83, although his family did not immediately release his cause of death.
“For those who were lucky enough to be a part of his early work in Detroit, his decades in the Senate, and beyond, he was an inspirational leader and so much more,” Levin’s family said in a joint statement with the Levin Center at Wayne State University’s law school, which he founded. “He will be remembered for his relentless intellect and work ethic, his humility, his humor, and his strength of character.”
“We are all devastated by his loss. But we are filled with gratitude for all of the support that Carl received throughout his extraordinary life and career, enabling him to touch so many people and accomplish so much good,” the statement added.
Levin was elected to his first Senate term in 1978 and served alongside influential Democrats during his tenure, such as then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He retired at the end of his sixth term in 2015.
Levin has been remembered by allies for his focus on national security and military strength, having served as the Armed Services Committee's chairman.
“We’ve always had a very trusting and respectful relationship,” the late Republican Sen. John Warner, who died in May, once said of Levin, with whom he worked on the committee. “We do not try to pull surprises on each other. The security of the nation and the welfare of the armed services come first.”
Levin stood among the minority of Democrats who voted against the congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq and later said former President George W. Bush had “written the book on how to mismanage a war.”
Levin was “a tireless advocate for the positive role that government can play in the lives of the American people” during his tenure, his family’s statement added, and he supported billions in government-backed loan guarantees for auto giants back in his native Michigan.
His record was enough to make him eligible for Time magazine's 10 best senators list in 2006.
“No one would accuse Carl Levin of looking like Hollywood’s version of a U.S. Senator. He’s pudgy, balding and occasionally rumpled, and he constantly wears his glasses at the very tip of his nose,” the magazine said in its profile. “Still, the Michigan Democrat has gained respect from both parties for his attention to detail and deep knowledge of policy, especially in his role as a vigilant monitor of businesses and federal agencies.”
Levin is survived by his wife, three daughters, and several grandchildren, and the family is planning both a private funeral and a public memorial in his honor.
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman
Original Location: Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87