TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL/AP) -- Surrounded by friends and family, former Florida Governor Reubin Askew has passed away at the age of 85.
Ron Sachs, former aide to the governor, told the Associated Press that Governor Askew passed away early Thursday morning at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where he had been since Saturday. Sachs tells WTXL ABC27 that Governor Askew had been in declining health as of late. In recent months Sachs says Askew has had pneumonia, hip surgery, and a stroke.
Askew rose from obscurity in the Florida Legislature to become the Democrats' surprise gubernatorial nominee in 1970 and then beat the incumbent Republican, Claude Kirk.
Askew's eight years in office coincided with the end of the Vietnam War, Watergate and dramatic social change across the nation.
Askew was a liberal on racial issues and crusaded for overhauling the state's tax laws, open government, environmental protection, ethics legislation and streamlining the courts and other governmental agencies.
Statement from Governor Charlie Crist: "Governor Askew opened up government to the people, allowing our state to be progressive on critical issues like civil rights, education, and ethics. He was a public servant, a teacher of students, and now a lesson of hope and progress forever sketched into the history of our beautiful state. Carole and I send our thoughts and prayers to Donna Lou, Kevin, and Angela."
Statement by House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston: “Reubin Askew distinguished himself as one of the greatest governors in Florida history, having been a champion for racial equality, ethics and tax reforms, and modernizing our state government. Reubin Askew served with honor in the Florida Senate and the state House of Representatives, where he enjoyed a reputation for integrity, compassion, and Democratic Party principles. Governor Askew’s devotion to the people of Florida and his enduring legacy will be missed tremendously.”
Governor Rick Scott Statement: "Governor Askew served our nation as a veteran, he served Florida’s families as an elected officeholder, and he served our children as an educator. He helped lead Florida to enormous growth and was a trailblazer for good government. His advocacy for Florida’s sunshine laws was a landmark moment for ethics and transparency in government, and that legacy continues to endure. His accomplishments were vast, but he remained humble and took his commitment to public service seriously. Governor Askew strove to make life better for all of Florida’s families, and that dedication is an example for all who followed in his footsteps. Ann and I mourn his passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Donna Lou, and his entire family."