Known for his overwhelming honesty and integrity, as well as his belief in the benevolence of government, Florida’s 37th governor Reubin Askew died today in Tallahassee.
Askew is considered one of the greatest and most popular governors of Florida and served from 1971 to 1979. He was recognized by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School as one of the top 10 governors of the 20th century.
Reubin Askew was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1928 and moved with his family to Pensacola in 1937. In 1946 Askew entered the Army as a paratrooper, serving for two years. During the Korean War, Askew served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1953.
A graduate of both Florida State University and the University of Florida Law School, Askew began his public career as Assistant County Solicitor for Escambia County in 1956. He went on to represent his district in the Florida House and Senate, serving as president pro tempore in 1969-70. In that same year he won the election as Florida’s governor and subsequently was re-elected to another four-year term.
As governor, Askew pushed through corporate income tax legislation, supported desegregation of Florida’s schools through busing, and championed open government laws that endure today and are unique to this state.
After his term of office ended, Askew served in President Carter’s cabinet as U.S. Trade Representative and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. presidency in 1984.
While continuing his legal career, Askew served as a professor of public policy at the Florida Institute of Government which bears his name. He will be remembered as a consummate leader who was true to his word and values and as a governor who was able to work across party lines for the benefit of the people of Florida.