John P. East
Late A Senator From
Delivered In Congress
John P. East]
Held in the Senate of the United States and the House of Representatives together with tributes presented in eulogy ofJohn P. EastLate a Senator from North Carolina
Second SessionU.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
Compiled under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing
|Proceedings in the Senate:|
|Announcement of death by the Honorable Jesse Helms, of North Carolina||1|
|Prayers by Rev. Richard C. Halverson, D.D., Chaplain of the Senate||1, 19|
|Resolution of respect||19|
|Tributes by Senators:|
|Abnor, James, of South Dakota||44|
|Andrews, Mark, of North Dakota||52|
|Armstrong, William L., of Colorado||77|
|Baucus, Max, of Montana||82|
|Bingaman, Jeff, of New Mexico||39|
|Boren, David L., of Oklahoma||52|
|Boschwitz, Rudy, of Minnesota||46|
|Broyhill, James T., of North Carolina||21|
|Byrd, Robert C., of West Virginia||79|
|Chafee, John H., of Rhode Island||60|
|Cochran, Thad, of Mississippi||59|
|Cohen, William S., of Maine||66|
|Cranston, Alan, of California||17|
|D'Amato, Alfonse M., of New York||36|
|DeConcini, Dennis, of Arizona||33|
|Denton, Jeremiah, of Alabama||31|
|Dixon, Alan J., of Illinois||83|
|Dodd, Christopher J., of Connecticut||33|
|Dole, Robert, of Kansas||64|
|Domenici, Pete V., of New Mexico||51|
|Durenburger, David, of Minnesota||61|
|Exon, J. James, of Nebraska||26|
|Garn, Jake, of Utah||52|
|Goldwater, Barry, of Arizona||30|
|Gorton, Slade, of Washington||68|
|Gramm, Phil, of Texas||57|
|Grassley, Charles E., of Iowa||51|
|Hatch, Orrin G., of Utah||71|
|Hatfield, Mark O., of Oregon||28|
|Hawkins, Paula, of Florida||20|
|Hecht, Chic, of Nevada||68|
|Tributes by Senators—Continued|
|Heflin, Howell, of Alabama||25|
|Heinz, John, of Pennsylvania||17|
|Helms, Jesse, of North Carolina||1, 5, 19, 29, 62|
|Charlotte Observer, June 30, 1986||7|
|Durham Morning Herald, July 1, 1986||11|
|Greensboro News & Record, June 30, 1986||13|
|Raleigh News and Observer, June 30, 1986||5|
|Raleigh News and Observer, July 1, 1986||12|
|Wahington Post, July 1, 1986||14|
|Washington Times, July 1, 1986||15|
|Winston-Salem Journal, July 1, 1986||10|
|Winston-Salem Journal, July 2, 1986||9|
|Memorial Resolution from the State of Louisiana||63|
|Memorial tribute and prayers in Greenville, NC, by Rev. J. Malloy Owen III||3|
|Humphrey, Gordon J., of New Hampshire||61|
|Kassebaum, Nancy Landon, of Kansas||48|
|Kasten, Bob, of Wisconsin||81|
|Laxalt, Paul, of Nevada||47|
|Levin, Carl, of Michigan||57|
|Mathias, Charles McC., Jr., of Maryland||53|
|Matsunaga, Spark M., of Hawaii||81|
|Mattingly, Mack, of Georgia||37|
|McClure, James A., of Idaho||58|
|McConnell, Mitch, of Kentucky||35|
|Melcher, John, of Montana||19|
|Moynihan, Daniel Patrick, of New York||53|
|Curriculum vitae of John Porter East||55|
|Murkowski, Frank H., of Alaska||18|
|Nickles, Don, of Oklahoma||30|
|Packwood, Bob, of Oregon||34|
|Pressler, Larry, of South Dakota||17|
|Proxmire, William, of Wisconsin||18|
|Quayle, Dan. of Indiana||73|
|Roth, William V., Jr., of Delaware||34|
|Simpson, Alan K., of Wyoming||15, 22|
|Stafford, Robert T., of Vermont||37|
|Stennis, John C., of Mississippi||45|
|Stevens, Ted, of Alaska||27|
|Symms, Steven D., of Idaho||38, 83|
|Article from the Conservative Digest, September 1986||84|
|Thurmond, Strom, of South Carolina||39|
|Charlotte (NC) Observer, June 30, 1986||40|
|Los Angeles (CA) Times, February 28, 1986||42|
|Washington (DC) Post, June 30, 1986||42|
|Proceedings in the Senate—Continued|
|Tributes by Senators—Continued|
|Washington (DC) Times, June 30, 1986||41|
|Trible, Paul S., Jr., of Virginia||80|
|Wallop, Malcolm, of Wyoming||48|
|Warner, John W., of Virginia||27|
|Wilson, Pete, of California||69|
|Proceedings in the House:|
|Resolution of respect||91|
|Tributes by Representatives:|
|Cobey, William W., Jr., of North Carolina||92|
|Gaydos, Joseph M., of Pennsylvania||91|
|Hefner, W.G. (Bill), of North Carolina||91|
JOHN PORTER EAST, a Senator from North Carolina; born in Springfield, Illinois, May 5, 1931; attended the public schools; graduated from University High School, Normal, Illinois; B.A., Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 1953; LL.B., University of Illinois, Urbana, 1959; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Florida, Gainesville, 1962 and 1964; married to the former Priscilla Sherk, 1953; two daughters: Katherine Porter East and Martha East Vainright; one granddaughter; Jordan Vainright; served in the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant, 1953-1955; attorney; admitted to the Florida Bar in 1959 and commenced practice in Naples; professor, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, 1964-1980; delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1968, 1976, 1980, and 1984; Republican candidate to the United States House of Representatives for the 1st Congressional District of North Carolina, 1966; Republican candidate for the office of secretary of state of North Carolina, 1968; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate, November 4, 1980, for the six-year term beginning January 3, 1981; was a resident of Greenville, North Carolina until his death there on June 29, 1986; remains interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR JOHN PORTER EAST
Proceedings in the Senate
MONDAY, July 14, 1986.
The Chaplain, the Reverend Richard C. Halverson, D.D., offered the following prayer:
Let us pray.
Just at this moment, David Joy, of the Photography Department, is undergoing complicated surgery. Father in Heaven, we commend him now to Your loving care.
God of all comfort, Father of us all, the Senate convenes today, painfully aware of the absence of one of its respected Members. We thank you for Senator JOHN EAST—for his dedicated service to God and country. We thank You for his brilliant mind—his profound understanding of constitutional government—his sense of history. We thank You for his unfailing ability to see issues in their larger context, in the perspective of permanent values, in the light of tested tradition, and in the long view ahead. We thank You for his courage and perseverance under great personal difficulty—his gentleness—his response to duty and his commitment to the trust which sent him to the Senate. We join in loving concern and prayer for Mrs. East, the family, the faithful staff who served him so well, and hosts of admiring, sorrowing friends. Gracious, compassionate Father, give to them the peace which only You can give at this time of pain and loss.
And, Father in Heaven, as Senator James Broyhill is sworn in, we pray for him a special measure of Your wisdom and Your guidance and Your blessing upon him as well as his family and his staff.
In the name of Him who Senator EAST trusted for life eternal. Amen.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, it is my sad duty to report formally to the Senate that our distinguished colleague from North Carolina (Mr. EAST) died on June 29 at his home in Greenville, NC.
However, Mr. President, it is far more than a formality for me to try to convey the sadness that I feel. You see, JOHN EAST
was far more than a colleague. He was a friend to every Member of the Senate, a great American who was admired across the Nation as a man of enormous courage, extraordinary dedication, and keen intellect.
At a time like this, one remembers personal vignettes. How many times have we seen Senator EAST roll his wheelchair into the Senate Chamber, at all hours of the day and night, to cast his votes? And he came always with a smile on his face—when, frankly, other Senators were grousing about all-night sessions.
Mr. President, the distinguished majority leader (Mr. Dole) put it well a couple of weeks before Senator EAST'S death. Senator Dole, speaking to an audience in Charlotte, paid tribute to Senator EAST, describing Senator EAST as “One of the most remarkable men I've ever known. I wonder,” Senator Dole said, “how many of us ever stop to think what a struggle it is for Senator EAST just to be there. The rest of us walk into the Senate Chamber. JOHN EAST has to come in a wheelchair.”
So in a very real way, Mr. President, Senator JOHN P. EAST was a profile in courage. The thought occurred to me, incidentally, that the words of praise from Senator Dole had a special meaning, because Bob Dole is himself another profile in courage. Badly injured in battle while serving his country overseas, Senator Dole has never once complained about the infirmity that would have devastated other men.
And so it was with Senator EAST. He never complained. And although, as Senator Dole said, it was a struggle for Senator EAST to comply with the rigorous schedule of a U.S. Senator, you could always count on JOHN EAST to be there when needed, and on time.
Mr. President, I shall not consume the Senate's time with a lengthy review of JOHN EAST, the man, the Senator. But there are little things which will linger forever in my mind. For example, on the last night before the Senate recessed for the Independence Day holiday, JOHN EAST entered this Chamber from that door. He cast his final vote from his customary position just to the right of the Presiding Officer.
A new group of Senate pages had arrived just a few days earlier. JOHN pointed to those fine young people, and said to me: “Jesse, have you noticed? Every time a new group of young people shows up, I decide that they couldn't be any better. But somehow they are.” Then we discussed how encouraging it is to observe the character and wholesomeness of the majority of today's young people.
That is the point, Mr. President, JOHN EAST helped build the character of thousands of young people. As a teacher, he was
superb. He caused students to think about America, and the greatness of this blessed land. He spoke of principles that deserve to survive. He made sure that the young people enrolled in his classes realized the uniqueness of America, and that that uniqueness is no happenstance. He caused young people to understand that freedom is both precious and fragile—and that it can be lost through apathy and indifference.
In short, this scholar-teacher-statesman loved America, and he conveyed that love to all who knew him.
And as I conclude, Mr. President, I would express my appreciation, and that of Senator EAST's family, for the countless expressions of love and sympathy that poured into North Carolina during the past 2 weeks. And in particular, I am grateful—as are Mrs. East and her daughters—for the fact that so many of our colleagues and their wives went to Greenville for the memorial services on July 1.
At those services, conducted by Senator EAST'S pastor, Reverend J. Malloy Owen, the essence of JOHN'S life was described in a most notable way.
Mr. President, I obtained a transcript of the remarks by the Reverend Mr. Owen, and I ask unanimous consent that they be printed in the Record at this point.MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR SENATOR JOHN P. EAST—REVEREND J. MALLOY
OWEN III, MINISTER
I am the resurrection, the truth, and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Blessed be the Lord! for He has heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts. For we know that if this earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.
Let us pray: O God, may we accept today your grace and peace through our Lord, Jesus Christ. May we remember with joy and gratitude a man of conviction, strength, and courage whom we sent from this campus to help lead our nation and our world. We praise you today for such a man, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Now hear the word of God as we find it in the 121st Psalm: “I lift up mine eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper. The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”
Among the most obvious facts in the life of JOHN EAST was his commitment to the Christian faith and to our heritage as Americans. Central to that faith, important to that heritage, is the Affirmation of Faith which comes to us from
the Second Century and is shared by so many of the Christians of the world and of our nation. It is called the Apostles’ Creed.
After we have stood and said it together, we will turn to Hymn No. 305, “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” We will sing the first stanza only. Let us stand now and affirm the faith.
In what do you believe? I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
JOHN'S Bible was so marked up. His family shared this with me as we planned this service. The markings indicate that he read his Bible. He studied it. He knew it. And the beliefs to which he so irrevocably committed were based in this Book. Two verses come to mind immediately. One has a picture in it that he used in a recent speech. It is a picture of leaven from I Corinthians 5:6. “A little leavens the whole lump.” JOHN knew that it didn't take many people to influence a nation. It just took some people who knew what they believed, were thoroughly convinced that they were right, and were willing to pay the price of being different. JOHN EAST was willing to pay the price, and he led. And before too many years, people followed. And then, of course, the last chapter of I Corinthians includes this beautiful statement, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong; do everything in love.”
JOHN was a man of strength and courage. He had to discipline himself, especially in view of his handicap. His accomplishments are utterly amazing. How often I have heard people say, “Most of us would have crawled into a corner and watched television for the rest of our lives.” But not JOHN EAST. He knew what he believed. And if you knew him, you knew where he stood. He was tolerant of others, always willing to listen attentively to them as they presented their positions, really listening, and expecting from them like courtesy. He loved his family, and he is loved by his family.
Last night at the Greenville Rotary Club we sang it again as we did here last Sunday, “Who more than self their country loved.” And I thought of JOHN EAST. Although we are stunned and shocked at this tragedy, let us go from this place praising God for this man of strong convictions and amazing courage. Dr. EAST was an intelligent, articulate person who was engaged in civil and thoughtful debate on a myriad of issues. America is richer for having had him, and the lives of his thousands of former students are forever enriched from what he taught them. Who will take up the torch of this brave man?
Let us pray: O God, the strength of your saints and the one who redeems the souls of your servants, we call to remembrance your loving kindness and your tender mercies to this your servant, JOHN. For all your goodness that did not withhold his portion in the joys of this earthly life and for your guiding hand along the way of his pilgrimage, we give you thanks and praise. Especially we bless you for your grace that kindled in his heart the love of your dear Name and of your precious Word that enabled him to fight the good fight. We praise you for giving JOHN wisdom and knowledge, strength of character. For the contribution he made to the lives of his students and to the life of our country and our world, we are forever grateful. We praise you for this strong but gracious man as we remember his use of this prayer of Francis of Assisi:
- Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
- Where there is hatred, let me show love;
- Where there is injury, pardon;
- Where there is doubt, faith;
- Where there is despair, hope;
- Where there is darkness, light;
- Where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
- Not so much to be understood as to understand;
- Not so much to be loved as to love:
- For it is in giving that we receive;
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
- It is in dying that we awaken to eternal life.
Father, we would add only this, the prayer that our Lord Jesus taught us to pray when He taught us to say, “Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.”
Please stand for the benediction. And now the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, to whom be glory now and forever. Amen.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, needless to say, Dorothy and I extend our deepest loving sympathy to the lady whom we know as “Sis” East, and her two daughters, Martha and Kathryn, and other members of the family.
(From the Raleigh News and Observer, June 30, 1986)
SENATOR EAST LAUDED BY SORROWFUL COLLEAGUES
(By Todd Cohen and David Perkins)
Senator Jesse A. Helms said Sunday that Senator JOHN P. EAST was “a man of good cheer, but I expect that he will be most remembered for his astonishing intellect. He was a very wise man. He understood this country as few people do in terms of its principles and its fundamentals. And he did not hesitate once defending those principles.”
Helms, EAST's political mentor, was one of many North Carolina politicians who reacted with shock and with praise for EAST, who committed suicide in his Greenville home.
Helms, whose political organization helped lift EAST from his job as an East Carolina University professor to the U.S. Senate in 1980, said he would remember EAST “because of the personal affection that I had for him. No senator ever had a finer colleague than he.”
Helms said he had notified President Reagan, who was in California, at 10:30 a.m. of EAST's death.
“The president was stunned and saddened,” Helms said at a Raleigh news conference. “He greatly admired Senator EAST.”
Republican Governor James C. Martin said in a written statement that EAST's death was “a tragic loss for North Carolina and the people he represented
so valiantly and so well. Our hearts go out to Mrs. East and their family as we uphold them in our prayers.”
Martin said he had directed that flags on all state property be flown at half staff. His aides said the tribute would continue for an indefinite period.
Representative James T. Broyhill, the Republican Senate nominee expected by some political observers to be appointed by Martin to fill EAST's unexpired term, said he was “shocked and grieved at the news of Senator JOHN EAST's death. He was my friend and colleague, and I am just shocked at this news.”
Broyhill characterized EAST as “a patriot and a leader for North Carolina and our country—a man of keen intellect and courageous stature. My heartfelt prayers go to his wife, Sis, and his daughters, Marty and Chip, and their families.”
Former Governor Terry Sanford, the Democratic nominee for EAST's seat, said he was “sure that all North Carolinians are deeply distressed by this tremendous personal tragedy. Mrs. Sanford and I extend our sincerest sympathies to Mrs. East and their family.”
In 1980, EAST upset incumbent Senator Robert B. Morgan after a bitter race in which East's campaign was directed by the National Congressional Club, Helms’ political organization.
Morgan, now director of the State Bureau of Investigation, said Sunday by telephone from his home in Lillington that he was “saddened at the news of his death. And I'm awfully sorry. His family, his wife and his children certainly have my condolence and my prayers.”
U.S. Representative Walter B. Jones, a Democrat from Farmville who defeated EAST in a special and regular Congressional race in 1966, said EAST had been a tough adversary.
“We remained good friends, and those two races increased my admiration for him as a high-class gentleman,” Jones said. “I think his strength was his personal appeal and the fact that he's very articulate. He had a certain amount of charisma that was hard to deal with. He did better in the special election (for the vacated seat of Herbert C. Bonner) than any Republican had in many years, carrying two of the 14 counties at that time.”
Secretary of State Thad Eure, a Democrat who staved off a challenge by East in 1968, described EAST as “a very smart man. He was well-educated. And he was very loyal to his party.”
Former Governor Dan K. Moore said EAST “was a very fine, honorable Christian gentleman. . . . He was sincere in every action that he took.”
Helms, who spoke at length about EAST, described him as “a scholar, a teacher, a statesman. And he touched thousands of lives constantly, dating back to his days as a teacher . . ., particularly the young people. He touched them with his never-failing willingness to explain and defend the principles of America.”
Thomas F. Eamon, an associate professor of political science at East Carolina University, where EAST taught before going to the Senate, remembered EAST as “an excellent classroom teacher, always very popular with students, a very thought-provoking individual. As a colleague I found him to be a person with a great sense of humor and easy to talk with.”
Eamon, a Democrat who knew EAST at ECU for about eight years, recalled that, “always in personal political conversation with him, he would be really objective.”
Eamon said he had not seen EAST much in recent years. He said that last year he had sent a letter to EAST in Washington “and got back an extremely nice, hand-written letter from him . . . saying that things had been difficult and he appreciated the thought.”
EAST last year suffered from a glandular condition affecting his thyroid.
William C. Friday, former president of the University of North Carolina System, said EAST always had attended quickly to university matters that involved the federal government.
EAST played a role in discussions with former Secretary of Education Terrell Bell that led eventually to the resolution of the university's desegregation lawsuit with the Department of Education, Friday said.
“Every time that I called upon him for assistance, he was helpful to us,” Friday said.
Lieutenant Governor Robert B. Jordan III, the state's highest-ranking Democrat, said EAST “was a very intelligent person who voted his convictions. He and I didn't always agree. He was very dedicated to continuing and completing his term even though his health was working against him. I regret very deeply that this has happened.”
State Senate Republican Leader William W. Redman Jr. of Iradell County said EAST had been “a friend of mine, a man I had a great deal of respect for. He was probably the most intelligent man I knew in the United States Senate. I think it's a great loss to this nation.”
(From the Charlotte Observer, June 30, 1986)
A STEADFAST CONSERVATIVE
(By Elizabeth Leland)
Few North Carolinians knew JOHN EAST when he announced in January 1980 that he wanted to be their U. S. senator.
One newspaper editor described him as “the obscure professor at a little-known university.”
But with sophisticated direct-mail money-raising and forceful campaign rhetoric, East won an upset in November 1980 over incumbent Senator Robert Morgan, D-NC. He entered the Senate in a wheelchair and with a determined devotion to conservative ideals.
EAST, 55, worked mostly in the shadow of Senator Jesse Helms, R-NC, his friend and soul mate. He served only one term, announcing through aides last September that he was too ill to seek reelection.
In an interview after he made his decision, EAST said he hoped to be remembered as “an intelligent, articulate person who was engaged in what I thought was civil and thoughtful debate on a myriad of issues.”
He said he disagreed with critics who had labeled him a Helms clone, but acknowledged they agreed on most issues. “I think if I had been in a position to be here longer, that different identities would certainly have emerged,” EAST said.STAUNCH CONSERVATISM
As Senator, EAST quickly earned the reputation as one of the Senate's most conservative members. Just hours after Ronald Reagan took the oath for his first term as president, EAST voted against confirming Caspar Weinberger as defense secretary. The only other senator who voted against Weinberger was Helms. They said he wasn't hawkish enough for the job.
The spotlight focused on EAST in April 1981, when be sponsored a bill to overturn the Supreme Court decision that struck down anti-abortion laws and held controversial hearings on when life begins. But for the most part, he kept
a much lower profile than Helms. In his first 238 votes—during his first year in the Senate—EAST sided with Helms on all but 16.
In 1985, his health became a problem in his Senate work. He was hospitalized in February 1985 for a urinary tract blockage and in April 1985 for hypothyroidism. He missed much of the Senate's work that year, and rumors abounded that he didn't like the job and wouldn't seek reelection.
EAST was a private, reserved man. Some of his staff didn't know he had entered the hospital for a second time until reporters told them.EARLY YEARS
Born in Springfield, IL, EAST was a scholar and a football player. He played lineman at University High School in Normal, IL. Burton O'Connor, athletic director at the time, remembers EAST as an average player and one of the school's “most distinguished graduates.”
He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Earlham College in Richmond, IN, in 1953 and came to North Carolina that year as Marine lieutenant at Camp Lejeune near Jacksonville. Within 30 days of his discharge in 1955, he contracted polio, and his leg muscles were paralyzed. He used crutches and a wheelchair.
Despite that, EAST was not outspoken on behalf of disabled people. He said his life served as an example for them.
“I, of all people, have been proving the opportunities for disabled people in American society,” he once said. “So I find myself in the awkward position of sometimes appearing to be at odds with people that supposedly I should have the most profound affinity with.”
EAST earned a law degree in 1959 from the University of Illinois and practiced law. A year later, he enrolled in the University of Florida, where he received his master's degree in political science in 1962 and a doctorate two years later.ACADEMICS, POLITICS
He returned to North Carolina to teach at East Carolina University in Greenville. He once described himself as “one of those rare creatures in academe, a conservative political science professor.” His students described him as brilliant.
In 1966, EAST tried his hand at politics. He filed as a GOP candidate in a special February election against Democrat Walter Jones in the 1st Congressional District, for the vacant seat of the late Representative Herbert Bonner. Of the 142,700 registered voters in the sprawling coastal district, 138,000 were Democrats and 4,700 Republican.
“It will be a long, tough, fight . . . but it will be worth the effort,” EAST, then 34, said of the race. EAST, described as “a zestful campaigner on crutches or in a wheelchair,” campaigned against the politics of then-President Lyndon Johnson. His slogan was “Help Defeat LBJ, Vote The John East Way,”
EAST won a surprising 40% of the vote and impressed political observers.
He decided to challenge Jones again in November. He lost again.ROAD TO SENATE
In February 1968, EAST picked another battle. He challenged Thad Eure, North Carolina secretary of state since 1936. EAST lost but again surprised observers with 44% of the vote.
For the next 12 years, he stuck with party politics. In 1976, as a delegate to the national GOP convention, EAST drafted platform planks for the party's conservative wing: unequivocal opposition to abortion, a constitutional amendment
to prohibit busing and criticism of détente with the Soviet Union. Some of his proposals went farther than Ronald Reagan wanted.
By 1979, EAST had decided to run again for office. He said the state needed a “stronger, clearer voice” in the Senate and hinted he would challenge Morgan. On Jan. 26, 1980, he announced he would.
Hardly anyone knew him beyond Greenville and the inner circle of the Republican Party, and he was uncertain how being in a wheelchair would affect campaigning and his public perception.CONGRESSIONAL CLUB
But EAST was handpicked by Helms, and Helm's National Congressional Club ran EAST'S campaign and financed television ads that made EAST a household name. The campaign was bitter.
EAST'S commercials tied Morgan, once ranked among the most conservative Democratic senators, with such liberals as Senator Edward Kennedy, D-MA, and George McGovern, D-SD.
The commercials faulted Morgan for voting to cut funds for the B1 bomber and for approving the Panama Canal treaties.
The strategy irked Morgan supporters, but it worked.
EAST won by 10,411 votes, out of about 1.78 million cast.
(From the Winston-Salem Journal, July 2, 1986)
1,000 ATTEND MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR JOHN EAST
GREENVILLE.—U.S. Senator JOHN P. EAST was remembered yesterday as a forceful figure with strong convictions as his family, friends and colleagues gathered at a memorial service in his hometown church.
A standing-room crowd of about 1,000 packed into the sanctuary of Jarvis Memorial Methodist Church in downtown Greenville to pay their last respects to EAST, who committed suicide in the garage of his home here early Sunday morning.
The Reverend J. Malloy Owen III, noting that EAST, a victim of polio, was paralyzed in his legs and had other severe health problems, told the crowd: “He had to discipline himself. Especially in view of his handicaps, his accomplishments were absolutely amazing. Most of us would have curled into a corner and watched television for the rest of our lives.”
In the only reference to EAST'S suicide, Owen said, “Although we are stunned and shocked at this tragedy, let us go from this place praising God for this man of strong convictions and amazing courage.”
Senator Jesse A. Helms, EAST'S political mentor and close friend, sat on the front pew of the church with Governor James G. Martin, their wives and members of EAST'S family. Among the mourners were Barbara Bush, the wife of the vice president; Elizabeth Dole, the U.S. secretary of transportation; and at least eight members of the U.S. Senate.
Also present were the Reverend Jerry Falwell and officials of East Carolina University, where EAST'S had agreed to resume teaching political science when his Senate term expired in January.
After the 2 p.m. service, which lasted about 20 minutes, EAST'S body was cremated in accordance with his family's wishes. The senator was 55 years old.
A spokesman for the funeral home handling the arrangements said the family requested no other private memorials or services.
Owen, the pastor of the church, repeatedly evoked East's image as a serious—almost scholarly—public servant who was willing to match his strongly held conservative principles against often long odds.
“John knew that it didn't take many people to influence a nation,” Owen said. “It just took some who knew what they believed and were thoroughly convinced that they were right, and were willing to pay the price and be different.”
During the service, Owen read verses from I Corinthians that EAST sometimes cited in his speeches and public statements. At the request of EAST'S family, he concluded the service with the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
Afterward, many of the mourners waited patiently to offer condolences to members of the immediate family. EAST'S widow, Priscilla, better known as “Sis,” dabbed at her face with a tissue but appeared generally composed as she greeted the mourners, often with warm hugs. Mrs. East was flanked by the couple's two adult daughters, Kathryn East of Greenville, and Martha Vainwright of Maryland, and EAST'S son-in-law.
Falwell, who has known EAST since his election to the Senate in 1980, said he talked with Mrs. East by telephone yesterday.
“I think she's very strong,” Fawell said. “She's a real trouper, having stood by him all these years. . . . She's a good lady, and I'm sure God will sustain her.”
Virginia “Lou” May, the manager of EAST'S two-person constituent services office in Winston-Salem, said her home phone and office phone has been ringing constantly with callers offering condolences.
Mrs. May said she talked with EAST by telephone on Thursday and last saw him on June 4, when she picked him up at the Regional Airport for a rally featuring President Reagan on behalf of U.S. Representative James T. Broyhill, the Republican nominee to succeed EAST.
“He looked better than he looked in 1980,” Mrs. May recalled.
“His spirits were real high, and he gave Congressman Broyhill about the best endorsement he could give.”
Richard Viguerie, who operates a direct mail firm in Falls Church, VA, and is one of the most prominent behind-the-scenes activists in the New Right political movement, said that EAST'S death leaves a political and personal void for him.
“Senator EAST'S loss is a major loss,” Viguerie said. “There's no kidding ourselves—he was a key leader, one of our most important elected officials. He represented a new breed of conservative who was dedicated to making change.”
(From the Winston-Salem Journal, July 1, 1986)
JOHN P. EAST
“Tenacious” describes well the attitude JOHN P. EAST exhibited in facing adversity. He fought the odds and won. He achieved a notable academic and political record in spite of polio, which left him confined to a wheelchair. He survived defeats as a conservative. Republican before his election to the U.S. Senate.
EAST seemed undaunted by the prospect of leaving the Senate at the end of his first term. He contemplated a return to the classroom at East Carolina University as a political science professor. He was reading proofs for a book
he expected to publish. He appeared prepared to meet battles against ill health or other obstacles with the tenacity he had shown in the past.
His death at the age of 55 would be a shock under any circumstances. His apparent choice to end his life adds a sorrowful note to the culmination of his public career, and makes the loss to family and friends doubly saddening. Such a tragedy can be experienced, but not adequately explained.
Close associates obviously were as baffled as the general public. Perhaps that simply denoted the private nature of the man. EAST never gave the impression of a typical politician, eager for the spotlight's glare.
His approach was more apt to be intellectual, and his positions defined by ideology rather than situations. He may have struggled alone with doubts and depression, but he made no public show of it, nor did he ask for sympathy.
From President Reagan to Governor James G. Martin, leaders expressed shock and sorrow. EAST was lauded as a dedicated public servant and loyal friend. The reaction illustrated the personal integrity and tenacity brought to his public duties.
He had to call on courage early in life. An Illinois native, he was a Marine lieutenant at Camp Lejeune when he was stricken by polio at the age of 24. He earned a law degree from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Florida. As a young professor at Carolina, he ran on the Republican ticket against Democrat Walter Jones in the 1st Congressional District in 1965. The loss didn't deter him from running again, and losing, the next year. He remained active in GOP politics and defeated Democrat Robert B. Morgan, the incumbent, for the U.S. Senate in 1980.
EAST'S record was too brief to allow substantial achievement. He did the best he could in the circumstances under which he served. It would be unfair to say less or more. In one term, he had little opportunity to really distinguish himself. Poor health further inhibited him. By choice or constraint, he never moved far beyond the shadow of Senator Jesse A. Helms, his mentor and model. Detractors called him merely Helms’ echo in the Senate. There's no doubt he wouldn't have been elected without the money and campaign direction of the Congressional Club, the organization closely tied to the senior senator. In stepping aside, he endorsed the club's choice as his successor.
The campaign opened by EAST'S decision not to run could be further influenced by his death. The appointment to fill out his term will be up to Governor Martin. If the choice, as seems probable, is Representative James T. Broyhill, the GOP nominee, that could bestow an advantage in the general election. The governor, appropriately enough, turned a deaf ear to the speculation for the time being. He praised and ordered state flags flown at half-mast in his honor.
Whatever reasons figured in EAST'S fateful last decision lack of courage was not among them. His death is a tragic loss that must be accepted, but which cannot be adequately explained.
(From the Durham Morning Herald, July 1, 1986)
SENATOR JOHN EAST: BRAVE AND LIKEABLE
One of the unfortunate aspects of Senator JOHN EAST'S life was that he rarely moved beyond the shadow of Senator Jesse Helms and their unbending conservatism. Behind Senator EAST'S voting record—often scored because it seemed no more than an echo—was a brave and likeable man, one who had
overcome enormous physical setbacks and had proved that the measure of a man is his mind and heart and not his body.
Oddly for a United States Senator, Mr. EAST was a quiet politician who served not to build a biography but to establish his cause. That cause was inflexibly conservative. In the Senate votes, he was Mr. Helms’ twin. In personality, he was an opposite.
Mr. EAST was a scholar. He rarely yielded to anger or flaming rhetoric. He thought out his views, cast his votes most predictable, and didn't flinch when criticism rained upon him from the liberal—and sometimes conservative—press.
He seemed steeled against the nay sayers, and while his political ideology was tested severely, his excellent character was never damaged. He was strong and gentlemanly, a man of deep piety and strong social and political convictions.
What built such resolve? Why didn't Mr. EAST occasionally fly off the handle? There may be no easy answer, but his life serves some clues. Physically, JOHN EAST had been wracked by more than his share of pain and suffering. He was a young Marine oficer when he was crippled by polio and confined to a lifetime in a wheelchair.
Lesser men would have been discouraged, but Mr. EAST, who had won the Phi Beta Kappa Key in college, went on to earn law and Ph.D. degrees and become a college professor in political science. He shunned the trendiness of the liberal perspective of political science, and students who eagerly signed up for his courses heard a teacher who could expertly and wisely shake the foundations of the politics of welfarism and a weak defense.
He became a U.S. senator because of hard-hitting television commercials financed by Mr. Helms’ Congressional Club—commercials that destroyed the political career of Democrat Robert Morgan without really saying much about JOHN EAST. But if the Tar Heel electorate had been his classroom, North Carolina might have voted for him anyway. Mr. EAST could be powerfully convincing without theatrics. His suasion was didactic rather than volcanic.
It has been said that his life was a profile in courage, and that seems true enough. Yet it pains to think that one so brave, for some unknown reason, could not continue to face life and more pain. If JOHN EAST had chosen life after the Senate he might have been a grand teacher and statesman, a living testimony to man's ability to endure with dignity.
North Carolina has lost a plucky and brilliant public servant.
(From the Raleigh News and Observer, July 1, 1986)
EAST: COURAGE ON THE RIGHT
Ironically for a native of the Land of Lincoln, JOHN PORTER EAST can best be memorialized in terms usually reserved for stalwarts of the Old South—he fought well in behalf of a misguided cause. His death by suicide at the age of 55 deprives the nation's New Right of an intelligent, fiercely dedicated and articulate advocate. And it leaves North Carolina mourning a public servant who gave his utmost to the demanding task of being a U.S. senator.
For EAST, the demands of office were especially harsh. He accustomed himself to the glare of the political limelight even while coping with the physical limitations of his polio-induced handicap, which left him dependent on a wheelchair and crutches. The dignity and courage he displayed as he went
about the arduous routines of Capitol Hill inspired admiration that surpassed differences over ideology.
Yet the rigors of poor health—in particular, the thyroid deficiency that last year sapped his vitality and forced him into the hospital for weeks at a time—may have contributed to his decision to take his own life. Colleagues and associates say the worst phase of the hypothyroldism and the depression it breeds had seemed behind him, but the senator may simply have outdone himself in putting up a brave front.
EAST's Illinois origins, his physical handicap and lack of a political base seemed to stack the deck against him when he challenged incumbent Democrat Robert B. Morgan in 1980. But he was not running as a traditional North Carolina Republican. He already was a leading theoretician of the party's New Right wing, whose national leader was North Carolina's senior senator, Jesse Helms. It was Helms’ organization that catapulted EAST from the political science faculty at East Carolina University into the Senate, relying heavily on campaign advertisements that distored Morgan's record.
EAST in office was a vigorous champion of the New Right's jingoistic foreign policy and its repressive social agenda. For example, the legislation that most clearly bore his personal stamp was an outgrowth of the anti-abortion movement. It attempted to define human life as beginning at conception thus leading to protected status for fetuses, despite the Supreme Court's holdings that women have the right to choose an abortion.
EAST thus bent his considerable intellectual skills not as much to the advancement of individual liberties as to the furtherance of the moral code shared by him and others of his ideological persuasion.
As he neared political retirement, EAST was heading for the security and comfort of academic life back on the East Carolina campus in Greenville, the pleasant city he and his family called home. He could have taken pride in his years of hard work in behalf of his constituents and his dutiful decision not to seek re-election when health problems may have kept him from giving 100 percent.
But despair whose depths nobody had realized drove JOHN EAST to forgo that comfortable and deservedly self-satisfied retirement. His death signifies how high were the personal standards he held.
(From the Greensboro News & Record, June 30, 1986)
Senator JOHN EAST was a fighter, which makes the circumstances of his death by apparent suicide all the more difficult to accept. From the age of 24, he fought the debilitating efforts of polio. Though confined to a wheel chair, he was a courageous man who was not easily discouraged.
He fought for his career in Republican politics, too. He was twice defeated for public office before narrowly winning his Senate seat in a bitter 1980 contest.
Above all, EAST fought for his staunchly conservative political beliefs. Those beliefs were deeply held and finely honed. Like his close friend and mentor, Senator Jesse Helms, EAST represented a new breed of conservative Republican who preached against abortion and school busing and in favor of prayer in the schools. He was a keen debater in the Senate and admired for his intellect, even by those who profoundly disagreed with him.
But the continued effects of poor health may have been too much even for this fighter. He recently contracted a painful hypothyroid condition, that sapped his strength and kept him from much of his Senate work last year. It also forced him reluctantly to decide not to run for re-election.
It appeared to staff and friends in recent months that Senator EAST had improved. He returned to debate and vote in the Senate, and he was on the verge of resuming his career as a professor of political science at East Carolina University.
It was in that new phase of his career, in fact, that EAST might have made his most enduring contributions. In the Senate, despite his convictions, he seemed out of place. He loved the ideas of politics, but not the practice of compromise. He never established his independence from Senator Helms, perhaps because he didn't want to. Whether better health or a second term in the Senate would have given him more influence we will never know.
But we do know EAST was very well suited to the classroom. Made wiser by his Senate experience, he could have taught and influenced another generation of young scholars.
But, now, for reasons we will probably never fully understand, JOHN EAST'S voice has been stilled. His intellectual talents were too large to be so abruptly and tragically wasted. All North Carolinians are saddened by his loss.
(From the Washington Post, July 1, 1986)
JOHN P. EAST
Senator JOHN P. EAST had been attending sessions at the Senate regularly, was described by aides as cheerful and in a good mood, and was preparing to edit proofs of a book of essays he had written. But as his colleague and fellow North Carolina Republican Jesse Helms said, “One never knows what's inside another person.” Mr. EAST killed himself over the weekend in his Greenville home.
What we do know is that Mr. EAST pursued his political career under circumstances of surpassing difficulty. In 1955 he was crippled by polio while serving in the Marine Corps. He announced last fall that for health reasons he would not run for reelection this year. He was hospitalized in 1985 for hypothyroidism—a condition that tends to be accompanied by depression—and for treatment of a low white-blood-cell count and a urinary blockage.
Confined to a wheelchair, Mr. EAST earned a law degree and a Ph.D. in political science, and became a professor at East Carolina University. A conservative Republican when that breed was scarce in eastern North Carolina, he ran for office twice unsuccessfully before being elected to the Senate in 1980.
Like all politicians, Senator EAST was only partly successful in reaching his goals, and like many he may have regretted the circumstances—especially cruel in his case—prompting him to leave public office. But he had cause for satisfaction in his work, and his apparent decision that he could no longer carry on inspires sadness and sympathy.
(From the Washington Times, July 1, 1986)
THE DEATH OF JOHN EAST
After playing college football and serving in the Marines, John P. EAST contracted polio at age 24—one of the last casualties before the Salk vaccine—and learned that he would never walk again. So he climbed into a wheelchair and continued on to law school, graduate school, and a career of teaching political science and the conservative philosophers he so admired. This comeback culminated in his election to the U.S. Senate, where for five years he put his conservative principles into action.
Polio did not destroy him, but hypothyroidism did its best, perhaps succeeding. The disease is known to cause depression, mental impairment, and hallucinations. Last weekend the senator was driven home to Greenville, N.C., and dropped off at his empty home, his wife being on a visit to her mother. Then a note, then the gas fumes, then the end.
American politics has lost a generous and honorable man and that rare bird in practical politics, the intellectual ideologue, possessor of both scholarly breadth and philosophical commitment.
The moral tradition that JOHN EAST so zealously upheld teaches that the Almighty has fixed his canon against self-slaughter, but it also teaches that He is, above all else, a loving and compassionate Father. Those who knew the junior Senator from North Carolina and who knew of his battles and his sufferings in this world will have no fear for his condition in the next.
Lesser men would have been discouraged, but Mr. EAST, who had won the Phi Beta Kappa Key in college, went on to earn law and Ph.D. degrees and become a college professor in political science. He shunned the trendiness of the liberal perspective of political science, and students who eagerly signed up for his courses heard a teacher who could expertly and wisely shake the foundations of the politics of welfarism and a weak defense.
He became a U.S. Senator because of hard-hitting television commercials financed by Mr. Helms’ Congressional Club—commercials that destroyed the political career of Democrat Robert Morgan without really saying much about JOHN EAST. But if the Tar Heel electorate had been his classroom, North Carolina might have voted for him anyway. Mr. EAST could be powerfully convincing without theatrics. His suasion was didactic rather than volcanic.
It has been said that his life was a profile in courage, and that seems true enough. Yet it pains to think that one so brave, for some unknown reason, could not continue to face life and more pain. If JOHN EAST had chosen life after the Senate he might have been a grand teacher and statesman, a living testimony to man's ability to endure with dignity.
North Carolina has lost a plucky and brilliant public servant.
Mr. SIMPSON. Mr. President, it was a most impressive ceremony we have just concluded, one we have all shared in, and a most impressive series of remarks by the majority leader and by the Democratic leader and by Senator Helms—all extraordinarily authentic and sincere. I will have more to say at an appropriate time in eulogizing our colleague, but indeed it is a great tragedy since our last gathering.
I recall so well my last visit with JOHN EAST off the floor, with the usual pleasantries: “How are you, JOHN? What's up?” Talking about voting and the strange hours and things of that nature that we talk of—but seldom get to the depth of ourselves.
Here was this great man of courage who conquered polio; this bright, inquisitive, probative, incisive mind of his; a teacher in every sense of the word.
I have lost a friend. He was my seat-mate in the Judiciary Committee at each executive committee session. I know that the occupant of the chair (Mr. Grassley) remembers the pleasure of sharing time with Senator EAST, as he sat on his right and I sat on his left. We had a great deal of rapport and a fine spirit among ourselves.
Then the twin hammers of polio and hypothyroidism brought him down. He told me often: “I could handle the one, but the other makes it tough.” Indeed, the degree of that toughness will never be known to those of us here.
I was privileged to be at the memorial service in Greenville, NC—a very moving, swift ceremony—in which he was honored and eulogized.
I say to his wife, Sis, whom I have come to know, and their two dear children, whom I have not come to know well—I hope God will sustain them and strengthen them as they confront this awesome tragedy.
We welcome our new colleague, Jim Broyhill, to the U.S. Senate. He is a sensitive and thoughtful man. I have come to know him and work with him on nuclear issues in conference committees. I am certain it goes unsaid that this is not the manner in which he wished to come here, but it is in the manner as directed by law under the appointment powers of their able Governor, Jim Martin.
So we greet him warmly as we grieve for our own fallen colleague. Senator EAST leaves a physical vacancy in this Chamber and a greater vacancy in our hearts and minds as we ponder and grapple with how better we might have responded to him or heard his quiet pleas of pain and anguish which were very real and indeed were there.
So we ask God to relieve us all, in our minds and hearts, as to why?—a word, interestingly enough, that does not appear in the Bible. That, I think, is very fortunate, because we cannot continue to wonder “Why?” Our faith and certainly the faith of his wife, Sis, and their two daughters and their love for each other will help us all to assuage the pain of his loss. He shall be deeply missed in so many ways by so many of us.
Mr. CRANSTON. Mr. President, those of us on the Democratic side of the aisle did not very often vote with JOHN EAST; we did not very often agree with him on issues. We knew him as a man of great intelligence and high integrity. He was always pleasant, always smiling, and never complaining about the pain and the anguish and the suffering that was his lot. He was a fine Member of this body, a fine member of the family, and we all miss him very deeply.
We express our regrets to his wife and his daughters and other members of that family.
We are also in a mood of welcoming to this Chamber Senator Jim Broyhill, who comes to replace Senator JOHN EAST. We look forward to working with Senator Broyhill on the great issues that confront us all in this body and in the United States and in the world.
Mr. PRESSLER. Mr. President, it is with profound sadness that I take this opportunity to express my condolences upon the death of our friend and colleague, Senator JOHN EAST.
The death of Senator EAST removes an extraordinary American from our ranks. Author, philosopher, teacher, scholar, leader, and patriot, JOHN helped us all to better understand the principles and values upon which our way of life is based.
In Congress, Senator EAST handled the responsibilities of his office with unwavering dedication, honesty, and hard work. He supported calls for a restoration of traditional family values, frequently citing philosophers such as Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Edmund Burke. He was strongly dedicated to his home State of North Carolina and our Nation, fighting for his constituents and his principles.
It has been my honor to know JOHN and to be among his many friends and admirers. Throughout his life, JOHN has served his God, country, State, and community. His life of public service will continue to be an inspiration to us all. JOHN EAST'S personal qualities, his sincerity, his friendliness, his dignity, and his character are the hallmarks of a remarkable human being. He has earned a prominent place in American history. I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife, Priscilla, and other members of his family.
Mr. HEINZ. Mr. President, it is with sadness that I rise in remembrance of Senator EAST. JOHN was a man of strongly held beliefs, great integrity and personal courage. He was a scholar, a compassionate man, a fine Senator and a good friend.
JOHN EAST was no stranger to adversity. As a young man he was stricken with polio. His response to adversity was typical of JOHN. He dedicated himself to the pursuit of knowledge, and having attained it, dedicated himself for 16 years to sharing it with others. In 1980 the people of North Carolina elected him to serve in this body and for the last 6 years he served North Carolinians and, indeed, all Americans steadfastly.
I will miss JOHN. Several of our colleagues have offered condolences to his wife, Sissy and his family, and I join with them in expressing my sorrow and my wish that JOHN's great accomplishments will be a comfort to his wife and daughters as they are and will be to the multitude of people JOHN'S life touched.
Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, the death of Senator JOHN EAST has saddened us all. JOHN's passing was sudden and unexpected, and our hearts and prayers are with Priscilla and the East family.
JOHN EAST and I came to the Senate at the same time, and I consider myself fortunate to have enjoyed JOHN's friendship. His career in public service was extraordinary, and serves as a lesson for those who must overcome adversities. JOHN served in the Marine Corps until he contracted a debilitating illness that forced him to change paths. Undaunted, he obtained a law degree. He later turned his attention and enthusiasm to educational pursuits, after earning a doctorate degree in 1964.
For over 15 years, JOHN taught political science at East Carolina University, and, in 1980, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he strove to put into practice what he had been teaching and studying for much of his career.
Those of us in the Senate who knew JOHN EAST will never underestimate his courage, his thoughtfulness or his sincerity in taking tough positions on a variety of issues ranging from our national foreign policy to concern over family values.
I will deeply miss JOHN's companionship, and the Senate will miss his wisdom.
Mr. PROXMIRE. Mr. President, I wish to join my colleagues in paying tribute to our departed colleague JOHN EAST, the Senator from North Carolina. He was a remarkable man. In the years I have been here—and I have been here 29 years—I cannot recall more than two or three Senators who had been wheelchair-ridden, and none during their entire career, except JOHN EAST. JOHN EAST has shown great courage. I think he was a most articulate, intelligent, very decent, and good man.
Mr. MELCHER. Mr. President, I wish to express my sympathy and condolences to the family of Senator JOHN EAST. His passing from this world and his absence from this Senate leaves a void.
JOHN EAST was a man of great integrity, and great intelligence. He will be sorely missed here.
Mr. HELMS submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to:SENATE RESOLUTION 442
Resolved, That the Senate has heard with profound sorrow and deep regret the announcement of the death of the Honorable JOHN P. EAST, a Senator from the State of North Carolina.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate communicate these resolutions to the House of Representatives and transmit an enrolled copy thereof to the family of the deceased.
Resolved, That when the Senate recesses today, it recess as a further mark of respect to the memory of the deceased.
TUESDAY, July 22, 1986.
The Chaplain, the Reverend Richard C. Halverson, D.D., offered the following prayer:
Let us pray.
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.—Proverbs 22:1.
Gracious God, our loving Father in Heaven, this morning, colleagues of Senator JOHN EAST will pay their tributes as they express their admiration, affection, and appreciation for a great servant of the people. Passing of time does not diminish our sense of loss, nor dim the profound gratitude we feel for this uncommon man of such immense wisdom and courage, whose life has touched so many with such significant influence. Thank You for Senator EAST and precious memories of a good man.
As we remember Senator EAST, dear Father God, we are not unmindful of his loyal and faithful staff in their traumatic loss. Suddenly, without warning, they find themselves not only suffering the loss of a beloved mentor but unemployed as well. We pray for them, thanking You for those who have found work, and praying with loving concern for those who still search. Be with them, bless them, and lead them. In His name Whose love is unconditional, universal, and eternal. Amen.
Mrs. HAWKINS. Mr. President, I would like to express my sympathy to Mrs. East and her daughters, the family, friends, and to everyone who worked with and knew Senator JOHN EAST. Senator EAST led an extraordinary life and his accomplishments stand as an example to all Americans.
I remember when Senator EAST and I were on the Republican National Committee together. He was a very quiet man, but a man of tremendous courage and strength, a man of unusual resolve and courage. Senator EAST was a man who worked to overcome great odds. Paralyzed by polio at the age of 24, JOHN EAST did not let this hinder his future. JOHN EAST trained himself as a lawyer, political scientist, and a scholar. He used his talents to educate young people and to bring enlightenment to hundreds of Americans. JOHN EAST unselfishly worked as a public servant to give his best to the country that he loved so much. Ailments such as polio and hypothyroidism plagued JOHN EAST but he never complained about his disabilities. Instead of letting these hardships rule his life, he conquered his physical burdens of illness and showed the world that the human spirit at its best can overcome even the greatest of obstacles.
President Reagan called Senator EAST a “true patriot” and said that he “loved his country and was motivated by a sense of duty to his fellow man.” Idealism was the great motivator of JOHN EAST.
He came to the Senate in my class. He came to contribute to the progress of our country. He fought for principles he believed in. He did not back down under heavy opposition. He battled eloquently for his beliefs. JOHN was a gentleman and a scholar. He rarely resorted to flaming rhetoric but articulated his views and defended them even when he was subjected to the harshest criticism.
JOHN EAST was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marines when he suffered a setback by contracting polio. He then went on to earn a law degree, a master's degree, and a Ph.D. in political science. He was a professor at East Carolina University for many years and earned a reputation as a great author and educator.
I knew many of his students. In fact the week before he died one of his students came to see me and asked could he be introduced again to Senator EAST. The young man had gone on to become a political reporter for a paper in Florida and said that Senator EAST had inspired him to pursue that vocation.
In 1980 JOHN EAST was elected to serve his country in the U.S. Senate. He joined me in pushing for tough drug enforcement. He sponsored legislation to promote economy in Government
and sought to improve our judicial system. Among many other things he was also a strong advocate for free enterprise and strove to continue to keep our military strong.
The loss of JOHN EAST as a friend is a terrible tragedy. This Congress will be less due to the loss of Senator EAST. I have great respect for his courage, great example, and achievements. The work that JOHN EAST accomplished in his lifetime will not be undone, and his great example of human spirit conquering adversity cannot and will not be forgotten.
Mr. BROYHILL. Mr. President, I will never forget the first time that I met JOHN EAST. It was in 1965. At that time he was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina's First Congressional District.
I was immediately impressed with JOHN's very keen intellect and his ability to articulate the issues. He was a man of very firm convictions and, of course, was devoted to his country.
The Senator from Florida has already pointed out his academic achievements and the fact that he was an attorney as well as a Ph.D. in political science, and, of course, it was of great interest to me, a student of political science, that he chose as his profession to be a professor of political science to teach young people about the political affairs of our country and to tell them about his deep feelings, about how he felt. He was consistent in his attitudes and in his beliefs in all the years that I knew him.
I started working with JOHN back in those days as we were both working to advance the political causes in our State of North Carolina. It is interesting to note that in our State there have only been three Republican national committeemen from our State since 1928, the father of former Congressman Charles R. Jonas and my father, and then JOHN EAST succeeded my father in 1976.
I can recall that when my father retired as Republican national committeeman from North Carolina, his first recommendation for replacement was JOHN EAST.
The last time that I had a prolonged conversation with JOHN was at a campaign luncheon that was sponsored in my behalf down in Greensboro, NC, on June 4. That was an exciting moment when we had our Governor, Governor Martin; Senator Helms; and our President Ronald Reagan; and Senator EAST all sharing the head table. At that time JOHN had not only expressed his hope and desire that I be elected to the Senate, but the offered his personal testimony, without notes and from
the heart and in my support, and I will always be grateful for that.
Mr. President, JOHN was well loved by young people and his former students at East Carolina University who had gone to class under him always remembered him affectionately wherever I met them across the State.
He had every year young people intern in his office and I remember reading a letter to the editor which appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal a few months back. The writer of that letter was a gentleman from out of State whose granddaughter had participated in the student intern program in JOHN EAST's Washington office.
At the end of her experience, she had told her grandfather that many of the legislators, in her impression, have been abrupt or demanding or maybe perhaps had had little time to speak and devote to the intern. Her grandfather asked which Senator seemed to be the favorite among the students and after thinking a moment, she said, “Senator EAST.”
She continued that the North Carolina Senator always took time to explain the legislative process to young people and seemed eager to ensure that they had an enjoyable learning experience.
That is the kind of man JOHN EAST was. That is the kind of man that we knew and he was our friend. He will be sorely missed.
Our prayers and our love and our hearts go out to his family, his wife Sis in this their time of sorrow.
Mr. SIMPSON. Mr. President, today for a few moments we all will share in paying tribute to Senator JOHN EAST. That is a sad mission. It is a time of remembrance of this man, a very special person; and his wife, Sis, a very courageous and very special lady, herself—strong, protective, resilient; I watched her with administration in their relationship together.
I think of the JOHN EAST who was so very excited when he came here to this place, full of life and full of enthusiasm. Bright-eyed, ready for the test, and the testing came early and he proved himself a very tough competitor, and very fair. Indeed, he “hit the ground running” when he came to this place. And he loved it.
His death leaves a great emptiness in all of us who came to know him. He had a deep commitment to public service, despite the obvious hardships he faced. He had, in essence, a very gentle disposition in the face of those same hardships,
and that was an inspiration to all of us in the Senate. He wanted to be here.
And so too we are all moved by the knowledge of that long battle that he waged against the polio that afflicted him, long afflicted him, as a young adult and in later life. And we stood in awe of the fierce determination that enabled him to become, first, a respected teacher and then a U.S. Senator.
When you sort out the life of JOHN EAST, you are awed by what he did for himself, principally, and then for his family, and then for his State, and then for his country. And even in the Senate he remained always a teacher. JOHN EAST was a teacher. He taught us often in the usual and the traditional way of teachers; through a very well-reasoned, well-prepared exposition of an idea presented with clarity and always with a touch of good humor.
I do not know how many saw that in him. I certainly did. A man of good humor.
As he taught us in his way as a teacher, he was always very careful to explain how he arrived at his conclusions. Some of those conclusions I assure you I did not agree with, and we used to talk about that and argue about that—but always with great civility. Whether you agreed with him or not, you always knew that he had given a great deal of thought and effort to presenting his position.
But JOHN EAST also taught us in another and very effective way, and that was by example, because his integrity, his dogged persistence, his very presence and spirit among us, despite those physical limitations, was an example to all of us. And we are the better for having known him and we have learned much from him.
I think of how he would come up that ramp, up to that chair, into the subway, all with an effort that many of us could not possibly recognize at all. And he did that, often smiling and with great good humor.
So we learned from him how to overcome the things that really are real while we often dabble along in things in a legislative body that we think we are “real” and yet are often very ephemeral and really do not really mark much up on the great score card of life.
And so we watched him. And we are now saddened and a bit dulled by his death, and we seek understanding of such an event and yet that is an understanding which will be denied to us—assuredly it will be denied to us.
I spoke on the day of the swearing in of his fine successor Jim Broyhill about the “why's” of the situation. And we will
never know “why”? That will escape us, too. We will have no understanding of that. We will not know how he became overwhelmed or overcome and why that happened and why his spirit and courage that had carried him so far no longer served to do that. Why? We will not know that—never.
But I do remember once, as he acknowledged to me the dual effect of the burden of polio and the disease of hypothyroidism. He said, with that great spirit shining through, “You know, I can beat one or the other of them but put them both together and boy, that is tough; really tough.” And it was tough, obviously tough.
I remember a particular time, about 18 months ago, when my dear friend Rudy Boschwitz and I were visiting with JOHN. He wanted to visit. He wanted to ask us some things. We were then “old heads” for we had been here 2 years before he had come! And he wanted to talk. He was tired, he said; he was wondering, he said; and he was questioning, he said.
And he said, “Do you still like it? Do you still get frustrated? Do your colleagues drive you crazy sometimes?” And we said, “Oh, assuredly so, we can tell you; you bet.” And we allowed that was all true. Indeed, it was and is, but that is part of the unique and marvelous experience of this place.
And so we shared much that day—we all did—not about the Senate and public life and all the trappings of this experience, but we talked about feelings; the real feelings about triumph and disappointment and the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how you prevail in this fascinating arena, which is perceived as a very romantic and kind of dazzling experience, and it is that, but it is also a very personal place where we get to know each other and share our anxieties and our problems and our usual commentaries about questionable legislation and the power of staff and other things of that nature that are so real to us on a daily basis.
On that special day—it was back in the President's Room where Senator Boschwitz, Senator EAST, and I visited—we talked about those things, about family, the job and health, and healing, and so much.
It is not good for us to dwell too darkly upon the fact of his death, but let us try to remember with very glad and full hearts the blessing of his life because he did and will always serve as an inspiration to us all.
JOHN EAST accomplished so much good in his life and now he has found his peace with his God. Let us rejoice, certainly, and be heartened in the knowledge of that truth.
We pray also that the remarkable lady, Sis, who was at his side for so many years, and his dear daughters, Kathryn and Martha, and all the others who loved him, and all of us, may be granted God's sweeping comfort at this time of his loss—because we are the losers.
God rest the soul of this dear and kindly man and let grief wane and God sustain.
Mr. HEFLIN. Mr. President, I am filled with sadness as I rise today to pay tribute to our colleague, Senator JOHN P. EAST. His death leaves a void in this Chamber which will not be easily filled. A strong, respected voice is now hushed, and in this silence we are the less fortunate. He was also a great friend and I will miss him in the years to come.
The example which Senator EAST left is one of courage, perseverance, character, and accomplishment. It was with tremendous courage that he faced life in 1955 at the age of 24 after the ravages of polio had savagely taken from him the use of his legs. It was with perseverance that he overcame his individual handicaps and earned a law degree at the University of Illinois and a doctoral degree in political science from the University of Florida. It was with character that JOHN EAST recognized no personal bounds and ran for the U.S. Senate to provide his country with his valuable services and his strong, clear voice. And, it was with accomplishment that he performed his duties as a Member of this body and represented the people of North Carolina.
Throughout his life, JOHN EAST possessed a tenacious resolve that enabled him to triumph. He forever embraced the strong moral convictions and high personal standards that distinguished him as a gentleman of great integrity. His intellectual prowess and faculties were remarkable, and his power of reasoning was outstanding. In any matter or on any issue his counsel was wise and studied, and his participation vital.
Above all else, Senator EAST labored throughout his life to benefit the people of this Nation. For 16 years he devoted his astonishing intellect to the unselfish profession of teaching as a political science professor at East Carolina University. Thousands of students benefited from his guidance as he taught them about our government and about the American way. When he was elected to the Senate, he brought with him this unselfish desire to teach. I believe that this is one reason behind the outstanding representation which he provided to his constituents. Not only did he struggle to serve them to the best of his ability, but he also worked to give them a better
understanding of the workings of government. This is one of the most important gifts which can be given, for it helps to further both democracy and freedom. An informed public means a stronger, more viable democracy. Such a contribution is, indeed, outstanding.
At all times and in every situation JOHN EAST possessed a delightful, easy manner which touched everyone. He always had a smile on his face and a cheerful word for everyone.
I hold a tremendous respect for our departed colleague, Senator JOHN P. EAST, as a statesman and as a legislator. He served the people of North Carolina, and of the United States of America well. His life of achievement is inspiring. He will be missed, and he will be long remembered. I believe that we should go forth from here, today, holding in our minds and in our hearts the example which our friend and colleague, JOHN EAST, set throughout his life. Indeed, he showed the way which we should follow in our duty to our States and to our Nation.
Mr. EXON. Mr. President, as we reflect upon great human tragedy, we stop and recognize that as human beings, we share great joys and great sorrows. For all of us, it is not if we will have great sorrows, but rather when, because we all share in great human losses.
We do not stand here today as Republicans or Democrats; as conservatives, liberals, or moderates. We stand here today to reflect upon our own mortality.
JOHN EAST was one of us. I sat with JOHN in committee meetings. We did not always agree—very few of us always agree. But you never had to wonder how JOHN EAST stood on an issue. JOHN EAST never pussyfooted around. You knew exactly where he stood and we all respected that characteristic. We can all learn much from the depth of his convictions.
JOHN'S passing from us at such an early age seems so unfair, but life itself is not fair. While we cannot do away with life's uncertainties, we can resolve to be kinder to each other, a little less selfish and more compassionate to those whose lives we touch.
Mr. President, I for one will miss JOHN EAST very much, not only his dedication but his cheerful smile, his cheerful greeting; when you talked to JOHN EAST, you knew he was a friend.
To JOHN'S wife, Sis, and his family, we offer our deepest condolences and prayers during these difficult times. JOHN EAST touched all of our lives. We are all better human beings for having been privileged to know him.
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, the passing of Senator JOHN EAST represents an enormous loss to the U.S. Senate and to the country he loved so dearly. As one who is privileged to represent Virginia, a bordering State, the loss of Senator EAST is particularly sorrowful; for the bonds that tie the Commonwealth of Virginia and North Carolina run long and deep.
The life of JOHN EAST, much of which he bravely endured with a handicap, was a profile in modern courage. The physical and intellectual challenges open to Members of this body can be extraordinarily high, and JOHN EAST was an extraordinary man who met each and every one of those challenges. He never sought sympathy or any special consideration from his colleagues. Instead, until a recent illness temporarily forced him to reduce his workload, JOHN EAST'S career in the Senate was marked by the same vigor that propels the rest of us.
JOHN EAST leaves behind a lifetime of accomplishments. After playing college football and serving in the U.S. Marines, JOHN EAST went on to law school, graduate school, and a distinguished career in teaching. It was during this time that his keen mind—a mind that was envied by all in this body—finely honed the conservative principles he believed in so passionately. He became an articulate spokesman for conservative causes, and his vision and determination will be greatly missed.
Although some of Senator EAST's convictions were highly unpopular, nothing deterred him in his work for change. In doing so, his tools for change were a brilliant intellect, personal integrity, and tenaciousness, and a voice that commanded respect by all.
Sadly, we have lost a colleague who had not yet achieved the full measure of success he most certainly would have achieved if tragedy had not befallen him.
My deep, heartfelt sympathies are extended to his lovely and beautiful wife and to his family by all of us who loved him so dearly. He was a fine man, a fine Senator, a great patriot, and a Southern gentleman in the true spirit of that tradition.
It was my privilege to go to North Carolina during his campaign and to campaign beside him and beside his wife. I shall miss him greatly, as will this body.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, JOHN EAST brought many things to this Chamber. What he really brought was his views. He remained loyal to his ideals; and even when his views put him in a very small minority, he was heard.
Much has been said, as the Senator from Virginia has said, about the hurdles which JOHN overcame throughout his life. I
am not here to dwell on those difficulties, except to note that in overcoming those difficulties, he achieved far more than most Americans can dream to achieve.
I think he set an example for disabled Americans. He also set an example for those who are fortunate enough to be here without a disability, because few can claim to have left the mark that JOHN EAST left in so short a time.
He came here with both a law degree and a doctorate in political science, and he was a successful professor as well as being a successful Senator.
He really did accomplish many things during his life. I am sure that one of the things he is most proud of was raising his two daughters, Kathryn and Martha. They, along with our good friend, Sis East, now have a new challenge. As one who has faced that challenge, I know that they will find comfort in the words of JOHN'S colleagues in the Senate and know that our thoughts are with them.
Earlier this week, Senator Helms was kind enough to share with us articles from several newspapers which memorialized Senator JOHN EAST'S life. In looking over those articles, the image I have of JOHN EAST came back. It is not the same image that many people would have. It is the image of JOHN EAST in the Senate Chamber.
Although he was disabled, I met JOHN very often in the Senate gym, because he was dedicated to trying to maintain his vitality, and we had many conversations there. I got to know the real JOHN EAST, I think, in those conversations in the quiet of the Senate gym, where we were not pursuing our philosophy but were getting to know one another. I found him to be an intelligent and fiercely dedicated man, dedicated to the principles on which this country was founded.
We had many disagreements, some in the gym and some here on the floor; but there is no question that North Carolina sent a brilliant public servant to the Senate when they sent us JOHN EAST. We will all miss him very much.
Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, the news of the death of Senator EAST came as a great shock to me, as I am sure it did for all my colleagues. Whenever a family member, friend, or colleague dies there is a profound sense of loss. With Senator EAST it was the loss of a friend and colleague who brought unique talents, experiences, and character to the Senate. His strong spirit, raw courage, and deep conviction added to the distinctive character of this institution.
Mr. President, I recall the first time I heard of JOHN EAST, was long before he ran for the Senate. As a matter of fact, it was before I came to the Senate. One of the members of my Governor's staff in Oregon, Conrad Joyner, had been Senator EAST'S debate partner at Earlman College in Indiana. It was through my relationship with Conrad and the stories he related to me about his debating partner that I first was introduced to JOHN EAST the man. When I later learned of his successful election to the U.S. Senate, I looked forward to meeting and working with this individual of whom I had heard but had never met.
While our different committee assignments and responsibilities precluded us from working closely together during the Senator's tenure in the Senate, I quickly developed a respect for his dedication and zeal for his work. I remember during my own days teaching political science at Willamette University and challenging my students to develop and cultivate a philosophy of government.
I shared with Senator EAST on occasion our mutual backgrounds in that teaching profession and our wonderful experiences of working with students.
Senator EAST had a philosophy, one which he was deeply committed to. No one had to wonder where the Senator stood on an issue. His position was always clear and he was always an able advocate and defender of it.
Mr. President, the death of a colleague also causes one to reflect on how fragile life is and the value of friends and relationships. In modern day political life we have become so preoccupied with maintaining the proper external image that I fear we lose touch with the real person behind the image. The death of our friend JOHN EAST is a reminder that behind the images we project as Senators are people with deep feelings. Sometimes they are feelings of rejoicing and of victory and other times feelings of pain, frustration, and defeat. Senator EAST'S death is a testimony to the ease at which we can work closely with a colleague and yet not know of their struggle.
Mr. President, my thoughts and prayers for grace and strength during these difficult days go out to Mrs. East, the family, and the family's friends.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, 8 days ago, when I had the sad duty of formally advising the Senate of the death of my dear friend and colleague, Senator EAST, I paid my respects to a dear and cherished friend. I will not today repeat those remarks, other than to say that no Senator ever had a finer colleague
than JOHN EAST. So many vignettes come to mind at a time like this, when one reflects upon the personal relationship that we have with our colleagues in the Senate.
Mr. President, I have never known a man with more compassion than Senator EAST, nor have I known another statesman who was more dedicated to his country and its principles. I have been gratified that throughout the tapestry of editorial comment and statements by people who knew and admired and respected JOHN EAST that this dedication was foremost in their minds. So it has been helpful at this difficult time that so many have spoken out about the Senator.
Mr. GOLDWATER. Mr. President, having served very closely with Senator JOHN EAST on the Armed Services Committee, I got to know him a little better probably than most Senators who did not have that privilege. He was, indeed, a remarkable person, because I know that his days were filled with pain and his movements were not easily accomplished. He had a brilliant brain, a wonderful way of expressing himself, and he was a very, very fine, decent gentleman.
What, I think, will stay in my memory about JOHN, are his everlasting efforts to be kind and good and understanding. These attributes are not found every day in everyone so we can say to him, thank you JOHN, you've been an example for all of us.
Mr. NICKLES. Mr. President, today we are pausing to recognize the life of our colleague and very good personal friend, Senator JOHN EAST. On June 29 of this year, we were all shocked and I believe saddened to learn of Senator EAST'S death.
JOHN EAST was, by any definition, a very exceptional man. From his youth, he was a person who had to overcome many obstacles and many challenges, any one of which could have defeated or impaired most people. At the age of 24, he contracted polio while serving his country in the military. He went on, confined to a wheelchair, to earn his law degree, master's, and doctorate degrees in political science. He was an inspiring mentor to the students of East Carolina University.
Senator EAST and I were elected together in 1980 and it did not take long to begin serving with him to learn that he had a very exceptional mind, very keen intellect.
I really respected him because he had a commitment. He had a commitment on a lot of issues. He fought hard. He believed in what he said. He brought a lot of things to the floor of the Senate, I think, that we need to have brought to the
floor of the Senate, that we need brought to public service, and that was a commitment to freedom, a commitment to personal freedom, a commitment to economic freedom, religious freedom.
He was a committed servant for the people of North Carolina and I think the people of this country. He certainly will be missed on the floor of the Senate. Very tragic in his death, but I think it reminds us that we are all frail and that we are all human. We will certainly miss the person, the man, the friend, the colleague, the Senator, JOHN EAST, and the commitment that he has brought to the U.S. Senate.
To the East family, to Sis and her daughters, we extend our sympathy, our compassion, our love, and our prayers. We pray that God will give them the comfort and the strength that they need in this most difficult of times.
Mr. DENTON. Without fanfare and without adequate public recognition, JOHN EAST forged a monument of achievement amid handicap and adversity. That monument of example is finally receiving reverent acknowledgment today.
Most men can but owe much of their lifetime's success to their wives. JOHN was married to a lady of beauty and inner strength, who was his constant companion, whom my wife and I came to know as “Sis.” I am grateful that she is here this morning.
As the former Priscilla Sherk, she met JOHN while they were both at Earlham College where JOHN pursued a B.A. in political science. While an undergraduate at Earlham College, JOHN played tackle on the football team and was a member of the debating team. JOHN then joined the U.S. Marines where he served as a lieutenant.
Twenty-two days after being discharged from the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, JOHN EAST contracted polio. But polio failed to stop him from leading a remarkably fruitful life. It seemed to accelerate him. He earned a law degree from the University of Illinois, practicing law in Florida for one year. He then earned his master's degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Florida before joining the faculty of East Carolina University in July 1984.
At East Carolina University, JOHN was a very popular professor where he taught political science with such enthusiasm that thousands of his students would go away with a new appreciation of American Government and that Government's priceless principles. He was a very, very popular professor. The great legacy of his teaching lies in the ideals that he instilled in so
many young minds and hearts. Many of his students are now involved in government and politics in Washington and elsewhere and tell stories of how JOHN cared as a professor and practiced with great zeal, taking the pains, the time, the personal attention with them to have lunch with them in his office, often to explain some point that they, as young students, had overlooked in their studies. The consistent message that JOHN EAST brought to the classroom was the same that he brought to the Senate: serve, and in serving, apply moral courage reinforced by imagination and intellectual power.
I think not one of us in this body has taught moral courage by example more than JOHN EAST. No one has been more involved in politics. He was active in politics as a youth. He served as the State Republican Party's national committeeman, was a delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention, where he served on the platform committee and then was reelected national committeeman in 1980 and 1984.
He twice received East Carolina's “Excellence in Teaching Award.” He was also an excellent political author. His doctoral dissertation, “Council Manager Government: The Political Thought of Its Founder, Richard S. Childs,” was published as a book by the University of North Carolina Press at Chapel Hill. JOHN also wrote a book that he finished just before his death that will be published this summer entitled, “The American Conservative Movement: The Philosophy Founders.” Its chapters, written with much care, were published over the years in the quarterly journal Modern Age.
As I mentioned, JOHN, in the Senate, again demonstrated his moral courage as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I observed him in our meetings there. He was always a man you could count on to apply his judgment with integrity, expressed with eloquence and extraordinary courage. He did not bend with the winds of perceived popularity. He stood with what he believed to be right.
I also served with JOHN EAST on the Armed Services Committee, chaired by the most distinguished chairman of that committee, who is now in the chair as presiding officer, Senator Goldwater. The chairman and I know that he was one of the strongest voices for providing a sound and effective defense for our country. JOHN could always be relied upon to resist the popular trend, the temptation to “bash the Pentagon,” of trying to balance the budget on the back of defense. He stood and voted for what he believed to be right, even when it was unpopular.
Mr. President, I cannot relate the deep levels of confiding which JOHN blessed me with in private conversation, but I can say I was inspired and I am grateful.
Mr. President, I shall miss JOHN EAST in the Senate. His colleagues will miss him. His State will miss him and the country will miss him. I am not sure that any of those who will miss him realize how much at this point in time.
Mr. President, it is always sad when this body suffers the untimely loss of one of its Members. This case is no exception. But I am confident that JOHN and his family would prefer that rather than mourning his absence, we remember him with pride and friendship. That is what I shall do, and I am sure that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will do so.
Mr. DODD. Mr. President, our normally happy return to Washington is marred by the knowledge that one of our colleagues, JOHN P. EAST of North Carolina, will not return with us. JOHN EAST was a scholar, a family man, and a dedicated public servant. His accomplishments seem all the more remarkable when we consider the disability he endured and overcame. We in the Senate are saddened by his passing, and I would like to extend my sympathy and condolences to his family and friends on this painful occasion.
In the 5½ short years that I had the privilege of serving with JOHN EAST in the Senate, I knew him to be a hard worker, a generous and compassionate man, and a unfailing advocate of his ideals. JOHN EAST demanded so much from himself on a day-to-day basis in his dedication and commitment to public service.
JOHN EAST was a model of tirelessness and selflessness. By his example, he taught us that a person who is physically challenged, as he was by polio, can rise to that challenge by virtue of personal courage and fortitude. He also taught us about personal sacrifice for public service. Although I disagreed with him on many issues, I admired the Senator from North Carolina for his forthrightness and his persistence, and I only hope that I am as forceful an advocate for my ideals as he was for his. We will miss our colleague, the Honorable JOHN P. EAST of North Carolina.
Mr. DECONCINI. Mr. President, the death of Senator JOHN EAST has saddened me and left a void that will not be easily filled in this Chamber. JOHN EAST was a man of great integrity and scholarship. He was a man of keen intellect who was equally at ease with a discussion of philosophy, trade policy, or agriculture. Many were the time when Senator EAST and I were
at meetings of the Judiciary Committee when he would undertake an explanation of his position; these explanations, always given off the cuff and without notes, were always erudite, thorough, and an exquisite explication of the point of view he was advocating. I may or may not have agreed with the point being made, but I was always in awe of Senator EAST for the elegance and precision with which he addressed an issue.
In addition to his obvious intellectual powers, JOHN was a man of compassion and courage. We all are familiar with the health problems that plagued him. He never complained; he did his best to overcome these difficulties. His kindness and decency were never questioned. He devoted a great deal of his Senate career to championing the cause of the unborn and the pro-life movement. This was an issue of enormous controversy, but Senator EAST never waivered in his quest to do what he thought was right.
This body will miss the voice of the philosopher Senator and I will miss him personally. I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife, Priscilla, and other members of his family.
Mr. PACKWOOD. Mr. President, I join my colleagues at this moment to honor and remember the Honorable JOHN P. EAST. Senator EAST overcame physical handicaps to become a scholar, teacher, and a respected statesman.
After contracting polio in 1955, he went on to earn three degrees. In 1959 he received his law degree, and within the following 5 years he had earned both his master's degree and his doctorate degree. After a long and successful teaching career Senator EAST began his term in the Senate.
During our time together in the Senate, JOHN EAST never ceased to be a gentleman, even when we were on opposite sides of an issue. He presented a scholarly, well-organized approach to his arguments. For this reason he was respected in the Senate, and we will all miss him.
I wish to extend my sympathy to the family of Senator EAST, especially to his wife and two daughters; and to assure them that he will be remembered for the man he was: Pleasant, dedicated, and courageous.
Mr. ROTH. Mr. President, today I wish to join my many distinguished colleagues in paying tribute to Senator JOHN PORTER EAST, a man whose strength of conviction and inner resolve complemented this honorable body and served as an example to each of us.
The great English statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, once wrote that life is too short to be little, and today I would like to take
this thought one step further and add that the majesty of a life is measured not by its length but by its accomplishment. In this regard, Senator EAST lived a life fulfilled.
From the time he came to the floor of the Senate in 1981, to his death only 3 weeks ago, Senator EAST represented the people of North Carolina, never waivering from their best interests and common well-being, and he proudly carried the philosophy and banner of his political party.
His education and professional background as a professor, attorney, and writer, prepared him well for the service he rendered in this Chamber. His optimism and friendly disposition marked his personality and made him a pleasure to work with.
At this time, as we pay tribute to Senator EAST, I would like to express my appreciation for the opportunity I've had to work with him, and I would like to express my condolence and support for his fine family who supported him as he supported us.
Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise at this time to join my Senate colleagues in memory of our distinguished friend and colleague from North Carolina, JOHN PORTER EAST. During my brief time as a Member of this body, I had not only the opportunity to work with Senator EAST, but also the pleasure of knowing and learning from one of the most dedicated men I have encountered in my life.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I worked closely with Senator EAST, and there discovered a depth of commitment which made me proud to be a Member of this body. Certainly, as many of my colleagues have remarked, Senator EAST demonstrated a combination of strength, dedication, partiotism, and intellect that is matched by few and admired by many. Despite his health, he maintained an unflinching commitment to his fellow human beings. An extremely hard worker, he placed his own well being below service to his job, his constituents, and his country. His genuine care for the unborn child, his concern over the security of our Nation, and his devotion to education should serve as examples to us all.
Whether on the floor of the Senate, in committee, or in the classroom, Senator EAST presented a model of character and a source of inspiration for us all. There is no doubt that we will miss the tireless efforts of our colleague, but even more, we will mourn the absence of his company and the loss of a trusted friend.
Mr. President, it is sad that people often fail to see the worth of life until confronted with death. Yet at this time I
think it is appropriate that we take a moment to reflect on our Nation's quality of life, its sense of democracy, and its foundations of freedom. For it is to each of these that Senator EAST offered the very most of his capabilities—often through periods that others would lack the strength and dedication to endure.
Because JOHN PORTER EAST gave his all for his colleagues, his constituents, and indeed every citizen of our United States, we will all be diminished by his passing away. However, in the light of his example and the memory of his work in this body, we can and should continue to advance the principles for which he so honorably stood.
Mr. President, I close by expressing my deep regrets and remorse over the loss of a friend and colleague, and by extending my heartfelt condolences to his family.
Mr. D'AMATO. Mr. President, it is no easy task to accept the death of a close friend. In the case of JOHN EAST, it was tragically unexpected. Our sadness is deep. He was an inspiration to us all.
Following a bout with polio, after having played college football and serving in the Marines, JOHN EAST learned that he would never walk again. Facing a tragedy that would have broken most men, JOHN EAST climbed into a wheelchair and pressed on with his life. He earned both a doctor of laws degree from the University of Illinois and a doctor of philosophy in political science from the University of Florida. He bravely began a career educating America's youth in political science and in the conservative principles which he so deeply believed. This comeback from adversity culminated in his election to the Senate, where for 5 years he put his words into action.
JOHN EAST and I arrived in the Senate at the same time, and I feel privileged to have known him and to have shared his vision for America. He supported prudent measures to restore this Nation's economic health, and to restore this Nation's defense capacity. He worked also for the Nation to regain a sense of purpose, an overall concept of itself. JOHN EAST loved America and he loved his community. He served both with great distinction.
History will record the official legislative action of Senator EAST, and the Congressional Record will transcribe his words. But we, his colleagues, became intimately familiar with a man whose presence in the Senate had an enormous effect upon us all. It would have been impossible to measure JOHN's patience.
It would have been equally impossible to gauge his determination, the strength to maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty or obstacles.
We miss JOHN very much. The Senate will miss his wisdom. America will miss his example.
Mr. MATTINGLY. Mr. President, I doubt if any of the Members of the Senate have yet been able to fully absorb the shock of the death of our colleague, Senator JOHN EAST.
JOHN and I came to the Senate together as members of the class of 1980 but my friendship with him predated our service in this body. We had first become acquainted as a result of our Republican Party activities in North Carolina and Georgia. We shared a distrust of big government and a faith in the virtue of individual responsibility and initiative.
JOHN EAST was a man of impressive intellect, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from college and later earning a law degree as well as a master's degree and doctorate in political science.
His physical courage, though, was as great as his intellectual gifts. JOHN always comported himself with dignity, rarely using his time or yours to dwell on the difficulties imposed by his physical condition.
JOHN EAST was first and foremost a teacher. In fact, he had wanted to return to academe upon completion of his term in the Senate. Those that learned from him in the classroom, however, were not the only ones to benefit from his teaching. He challenged us to think and to question. He challenged each of us to formulate our positions based on sound judgment and to stand by our convictions. He was a friend and will be missed.
My wife, Carolyn, and I extend to JOHN's wife, Sis, to his children and to all members of his family our truly sorrowful condolences. We thank them for his service to the U.S. Senate, to the people of his State, and to our Nation.
Mr. STAFFORD. Mr. President, I rise to pay my respect to the late U.S. Senator JOHN P. EAST of North Carolina—a colleague, a fellow Republican, but most of all in this Senator's mind, a human being who showed the way in courage and tenacity.
We who served with Senator EAST here in the Senate are not likely to forget quickly the determination he exhibited to overcome grave physical disabilities, and the success that he demonstrated in accomplishing this. My closest association with JOHN EAST came not here on the Senate floor or in committee rooms, but in witnessing him in the Senate gymnasium where
each of us attempted in an almost daily ritual “to stay in shape.”
JOHN EAST never gave up. It was a learning experience for this Senator to witness his determination and plain “grit.” I often wondered how many others of us would face the world each day and go about our jobs so forcefully if we too had to work so hard just to exercise our bodies.
Each of us, I suppose, hopes to leave some marks by our service here in the Senate. JOHN EAST, at least as far as this Senator is concerned, left such a mark—a constant reminder not to feel sorry for onself, a constant reminder that courage is exemplified in many different ways. And very often it is exemplified best by those who outwardly, at least, would seem to have the greatest reason to feel sorry for themselves.
JOHN EAST was a courageous human being.
Mr. SYMMS. Mr. President, our late colleague and my close friend Senator JOHN P. EAST, was a great American and a great Senator. He always held a firm vision of a morally great and powerful America.
After his election in 1980, JOHN EAST came to this body full of intellectual and moral vigor. He was always able to participate tellingly in our Senate debates on any subject, at any time. He was one of our finest, most articulate, and most persuasive speakers. I remember the times that JOHN'S presence and voice on the floor made a difference on the outcome, especially on defense and foreign policy issues, which he was most interested in.
As chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Separation of Powers Subcommittee, JOHN held several important meetings. I remember well his hearings in July 1982 on Senate Joint Resolution 212, an effort to legislate compliance with the unratified SALT II Treaty. I participated in this hearing. It established the important facts, which the Reagan administration supported them and still supports, that it is an unconstitutional exercise of power for Congress to try to legislate U.S. compliance with an unratified SALT II Treaty. This hearing was one of JOHN EAST'S most important contributions to our deliberations on arms control.
I regret that we will no longer have the benefit of Senator EAST'S wisdom, learning, articulate persuasion, and congenial presence in our Chamber. JOHN was a great Senator, a great patriot, a great marine, a great American, a great teacher, and a great personal friend. I salute him and all the noble ideas he stood for and exemplified in his life.
Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I wish to join my colleagues in paying tribute to Senator JOHN EAST, both for the contribution which he made to this country and for his courage and decency in the work he did here in the Senate.
I had the privilege of serving with Senator EAST on the Armed Services Committee for the last 3½ years and during that time I had many occasions to admire his strong commitment to his own political views. JOHN was not one to let his physical handicap interfere with his forceful advocacy of what he considered to be right. In all my dealings with him, I found him to be a credit to the Senate and a person considerate of the welfare of those he dealt with.
Mr. President, JOHN EAST will be missed here in the Senate and I'm sure none of us will quickly forget the courage and conviction with which he approached his duties in this body.
Mr. THURMOND. Mr. President, the death of JOHN EAST has saddened each of us and left a great personal and professional void in the U.S. Senate. During the 6 years he served in this body, we grew to respect and admire him. To his lovely wife, Sis, and daughters, Martha and Kathryn, Nancy and I extend our deepest sympathy.
A native of Springfield, IL, Senator EAST graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, IN, and received his law degree at the University of Illinois. He went on to receive his doctorate in political science from the University of Florida.
He was an educator and scholar, a man of extraordinary intellect and imagination, who chose for most of his professional life to impact America by teaching and touching the minds of his students. Throughout his career, he was a voice for the restoration of family values and traditional ideals, which are the foundation which has made America great.
It was his conviction to such high ideals that motivated him to seek the U.S. Senate seat for North Carolina in 1980. He came to the Nation's Capital with a fresh dedication to public service and a confidence in the basic goodness and integrity of our citizens and America's great heritage. Throughout all the time I have known him, he never wavered from his commitment to the basic values he believed formed the heart of this Nation.
In the Senate, he was an able legislator; a courageous and dedicated public servant; and a true patriot. To those who knew him, he was a devoted husband and father and a person of absolute integrity and principle. His life was a shining example of the qualities which have made America great: love of
God and country, and devotion to family. His death is a great personal loss to all of us, and especially to me, because JOHN EAST was more than an outstanding Senator—he was my devoted and valued friend.
Although polio confined him to a wheelchair in his early twenties, Senator EAST refused to let his physical limitations keep him from his call to duty, his responsibilities, or his pursuit of excellence. I often admired his tenacity and courage in overcoming hardship and handicap. He was truly an inspiration to all of us and especially to the thousands of American who have disabilities.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I had the opportunity to work very closely with Senator JOHN EAST. The entire Judiciary Committee benefited from his outstanding knowledge of jurisprudence and his many tireless contributions.
As chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, he gave his support to legislation to streamline the judicial system and ensure its efficacy in providing justice for all. Out of a sense of fairness, he allowed some measures he personally did not support to pass out of his subcommittee to receive full committee consideration.
Many will remember JOHN EAST for the social issues around which he rallied. He advocated voluntary prayer in the public schools and believed that life begins at conception. He opposed the jurisdiction of the Federal courts in areas such as school busing and abortion.
Those of us in the Senate, regardless of our political views, will always remember JOHN EAST as a quite man who measured the worth of every word before he spoke, a brilliant legislator who was both thoughtful and compassionate, and a dedicated American who loved his country and was willing to pay the price of freedom.
(From the Charlotte (NC) Observer, June 30, 1986)
SENATOR JOHN EAST
Senator EAST was a serious senator but not a flamboyant one. His politics—like those of his political mentor, Senator Jesse Helms—were of the far right. He worked, for the most part, outside the spotlight and bolstered his arguments with quotations from Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas.
To know Senator EAST was to admire his dedication and courage. He was undeterred by his physical disabilities. He developed a solid academic career and, spurred by his passion for public issues, undertook the grueling life of a
politican. His Senate colleagues noted that quiet determination in the last months of his life.
(From the Washington (DC) Times, June 30, 1986)
SENATE CONSERVATIVES LOSE A LEADER AS JOHN EAST DIES
Mr. EAST led the fight to return prayer to public schools. He also conducted hearings on an anti-abortion bill that would declare a fetus a human being at the moment of conception, a move widely regarded in an anti-abortion circles as a political turning point in the abortion debate.
Although he filibustered against extending the Voting Rights Act in 1982, Mr. EAST generally adopted a low profile, concentrating his efforts on the restoration of traditional family values.
Last week, Mr. EAST voted to confirm conservative lawyer Daniel Manion to a federal judgeship—a nomination with somewhat dimmer prospects without Mr. EAST's vote.
Mr. EAST himself was under consideration for one of two vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, according to knowledgeable sources.
In 1981, Mr. EAST was named chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on separation of powers. He most recently served as chairman of the panel's courts subcommittee. He also served on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Mr. Reagan, in a statement from his California ranch, said Mr. EAST was a “true patriot” who was “never flamboyant or interested in personal acclaim.”
“He was a quiet and effective legislator, who never wavered in his belief in principle and in his determination to keep our country strong,” Mr. Reagan said. “He cared about the people of North Carolina in a special way and was immensely proud of being choosen to represent them in Washington. Even in the face of adversity, JOHN EAST put his duty and his constituents ahead of his personal comfort, earning him the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
His political mentor, Mr. Helms, “is in a state of shock,” said the senators’ wife Dorothy.
In a statement, Mr. Helms said the loss of Mr. EAST was “a tragedy of monumental proportions. The Senate has lost a brilliant and effective voice for freedom, and those of us who were privileged to know him and serve with him have lost a dear friend and a constant source of inspiration.”
“JOHN was a unique man who combined the temperament and balance of a scholar with the commitment and dedication of a political activist,” said conservative leader Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
Added Dan Casey, executive director of the American Conservative Union: “America has lost a great conservative, a great senator and a great American and I know that all of us in the conservative movement take this very hard.”
Mr. Broyhill said Mr. EAST was “a patriot and a leader for North Carolina and our country—a man of keen intellect and courageous stature.”
(From the Washington (DC) Post, June 30, 1986)
CONSERVATIVE SENATOR JOHN EAST DIES
Senator EAST, a political protege of North Carolina's arch conservative Republican senator, Jesse Helms, was a former political science professor at East Carolina University. He never had held elective office before winning his Senate seat in 1980 with the help of Helms’ political organization.
In Congress, he fought extension of the Voting Rights Act, opposed amnesty for illegal aliens already living in the United States and introduced legislation aimed at forcing federal courts to rescind busing orders for purposes of school desegregation.
He served on the Senate Judiciary Committee and on its subcommittee on security and terrorism and chaired its subcommittee on courts. He also was a member of the Armed Services Committee.
A former marine who was stricken with infantile paralysis in 1955 while on active duty, Senator EAST was confined to a wheelchair for most of his adult life, although on occasion he was able to walk with the aid of leg braces.
He announced Sept. 17 he would retire rather than seek a second term in 1986 for reasons of health. In addition to polio, he had hypothyroidism, which forced him into the hospital in early 1985. He also was hospitalized for treatment of a low white blood cell count and a urinary track blockage, and missed much of the Senate's work last year.
He was born in Springfield, Ill., earned a bachelor's degree at Earlham College, a law degree at the University of Illinois, and a doctorate in political science at the University of Florida. For 15 years he had been on the faculty at East Carolina University in Greenville before he ran for the Senate, and his scholarly background was often reflected in his public statements.
Senator EAST was fond of quoting the likes of Plato, Thomas Aquinas and Edmund Burke in support of his argument that a restoration of “family values” was essential if western civilization was to be rescued from what he considered the evils of secular humanism.
He ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in 1966 and unsuccessfully for North Carolina's secretary of state in 1968. In 1968 and 1976, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention and a Republican national committeeman.
In 1980, Senator EAST defeated North Carolina's incumbent Democratic Senator Robert Morgan with the help of a television advertisement campaign that accused Morgan of voting to give away the Panama Canal, supporting aid to leftists in Nicaragua, voting to bail out New York City with federal loans and helping to kill the B-1 bomber.
(From the Los Angeles (CA) Times, Feb. 28, 1986)
JOHN EAST, SENATE'S ONE-MAN BRAIN TRUST
WASHINGTON.—The single most amazing thing about JOHN EAST, freshman senator from North Carolina, is not that he is the first person to arrive in Congress confined to a wheelchair.
Nor is it the fact that he never held public office before, or that he chaired a subcommittee that concluded, by a 3-2 vote, that life begins at conception, thereby defining a fetus as a person.
What distinguishes him is his brainpower.
Senators, both foe and friend, are beginning to describe the former college professor as the brightest in that puffed-up body.
Often hurling his intellect like a medicine ball in the gut, knocking opponents senseless, EAST has earned the unofficial title of philosopher of the socalled New Right, a spokesman increasingly called upon for the conservative point of view against abortion, the equal rights amendment, busing and the Voting Rights Extension Act.
Soon the Human Life Bill, which probably would outlaw all state-funded abortions except to save the life of the mother, will be brought up before the Senate again, either in the full Judiciary Committee or on the Senate floor.
Then EAST, who barely mentioned abortion during his campaign, will be thrust in the public eye again, playing first lieutenant (with North Carolina ally Jesse Helms as four-star general) in the battle to undo the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion on demand in the first three months and allowed the states to legalize abortion after three months in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.
(In California, a little more than half the abortions performed, about 99,500 a year, are performed by the state through Medi-Cal. The estimated abortion budget for Medi-Cal this fiscal year is $36 million for an expected 100,000 abortions, according to a Medi-Cal spokeswoman.)
During a series of interviews with The Times. EAST spun his professorial argument against abortion around the question of viability.
Many pro-choice advocates express the opinion that abortion is not the taking of a human life because a fetus is not viable, not able to survive on its own, not a separate, distinguishable entity. In short, not a person.
In subcommittee hearings and in private, EAST argues in a methodical, calm, unending monologue, a style perfected long ago as a national collegiate debating champion.
But this time, his placid delivery started to perk, offering a glimpse of the man obscured under a veil of verbiage.
“When I was in the Marine Corps and contracted polio, I don't know that I would say I was viable,” says EAST, who was stricken in 1955, one year before the Salk vaccine became available.
“It's a little presumptuous, downright egotistical, to say ‘I am viable, I go it alone.’ The devil you do! You think you do, but you're very dependent on other people in this life and you are from the time of being an unborn child until you die.
“Yet, the concept that the whole Roe vs. Wade mentality turns on is, quote, viability . . . . young man! . . . Marine Corps! . . . macho! . . . the whole thing . . . you're at the peak of your physical capacity, struck down like that (he snapped his fingers), totally dependent on little nurses coming in that weigh half as much or a third as much as you do. All of a sudden, you're no longer viable. Now, if viability is the test of livability, of the right to live, should I have been just left to die?”
EAST, 50, usually is a man of little expression. Occasionally he will smile, or his left eye will flutter. He is immaculately dressed, and not an ounce overweight. He lifts his reed-thin legs on a footrest for long conversations.
He rarely talks about his disability; so seldom, in fact, that Reese Robrahan, executive director of the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, laments, “In no way has he been supportive of the interests and the issues of disabled people. His political philosophy is so conservative I guess it's too much to hope he would support civil rights for the handicapped.”
EAST had brought himself into the abortion argument on the point of his disability before, wondering aloud during a subcommittee hearing on the
Human Life Bill if his mother would have aborted him if she had known he would be disabled by polio. But that was a calm, perhaps calculated offering from EAST. The trademark of JOHN EAST is that all questions lead inevitably to theory—to loopholes and the Constitution and court decisions and even the writings of Plato.
EAST has a whole team of philosophers he admires. Plato (“as fundamental as you can get”), Cicero (“the great figure in Roman political thought”), St. Augustine (“the biblical conception of man and the political implications of it”), St. Thomas Aquinas (“critical in trying to reconcile the biblical view plus the classical”), and Edmund Burke (“the best of modern conservative thought”). And there are others he devours for understanding of all points of view, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Jeremy Bentham, Karl Marz.
Occasionally, one feels he has brought all of them to the Senate with him. Through EAST, Plato will give America his opinion about abortion, Cicero his views on busing, St Augustine on tobacco subsidies.
With the self-bestowed carte blanche to rally long-dead philosophers to his side, EAST can be intimidating if somewhat esoteric. It's often not a fair game. He's sent too many players on the field. He knows that few senators or witnesses at hearings care to match wits with him.
One has to dig for hours, ask the same questions again and again, before uncovering the personal side of JOHN EAST.
Along the way, one discovers that EAST is not as extreme a character as he appears. On the contrary, he is a man of apparent paradox, with many shades of gray.
Mr. ABDNOR. Mr. President, all of us in the Senate are lessened by the loss of our friend and colleague, JOHN EAST.
While illness deprived him of the use of his legs and more recently of his physical strength, JOHN EAST was, in all other respects, one of the strongest people I have ever known.
JOHN EAST was strong in determination.
JOHN EAST was strong in intellect and intellectual honestly.
JOHN EAST was strong in convictions—social and political.
JOHN EAST was strong in personal integrity.
JOHN EAST was strong in personal charm.
JOHN EAST was strong in personal discipline.
JOHN EAST was strong in personal commitment.
JOHN EAST was strong in scholarship.
JOHN EAST was strong in articulating his philosophy.
JOHN EAST was, above all, a person of tremendous courage.
While you might not always agree with JOHN, you could not help but admire the tenacity he brought to bear in overcoming his physical handicaps and advocating his conservative philosophy. He was rarely angry and he was rarely deterred by criticism. When he was angry it was mainly with himself and the fact that recently his physical strength deterred him from being the kind of Senator he wanted to be.
Compromise with adversity or philosophy was not part of his nature. Yet, throughout all he was a gentle gentleman, seeking to convince through intellectual persuasion and thoughtful response to challenges to views.
When I was growing up in South Dakota my Lebanese-immigrant parents constantly reminded me: “This is a wonderful country. We must work to keep it that way.”
That, too, was JOHN EAST's philosophy. He believed in the goodness of America and that its goodness was founded in the efforts of the individual—that one man could make a difference.
JOHN EAST gave it all he had—and he did make a difference.
We have lost a great statesman—a valued colleague—a good friend.
May he rest in peace.
Mr. STENNIS. Mr. President, JOHN EAST of North Carolina contributed much during his service in the Senate, not only through the work he did here, but through his character and courage which was demonstrated in so many ways. I remember him for his commitment to doing his work, regardless of the personal difficulty and added burdens he had to carry. His honor and integrity was always evident as he went about his duties with true dignity.
I believe I am correct in saying that I have served with more Senators than any other current Member of the Senate. I am told that the number now totals 388. Each of these individuals has contributed to this body in unique ways, and each one has encouraged and challenged me in special ways. Senator EAST truly served as a source of encouragement for me personally as he demonstrated strength and courage in the face of adversity. It would have been easy, I know, for him to develop a rather resentful attitude. But he always presented the positive to those of us who served with him. Through his example, I believe he brought out the best in those around him. He showed us all that personal hardships need not control, but that we too can persevere if we hold fast to our will and determination.
The people of North Carolina were well served by this quiet, scholarly man who always put their interests above his own. Though his service here was relatively brief, his influence will be lasting. Through his tragic death, we realize more fully how difficult life was for him, giving even deeper meaning and significance to the personal sacrifices he made in accomplishing all that he did here.
I join with my colleagues in feelings of gratitude for having known and served with JOHN EAST, and pay tribute to his memory which will always include recognition of his contributions to the Senate, to each of us individually, and to this country which he loved and served.
Mr. BOSCHWITZ. Mr. President, I rise to join scores of my colleagues who have spoken in remembrance of JOHN EAST. JOHN really is a loss to the Senate, and I rise to express that loss as a person, and as a Senator, for myself, and I believe, for the entirety of the Senate.
I also express my compassion and condolences to Sis, his wife, who has been such a valued member of our Senate community.
I did not serve on any committees with Senator EAST, Mr. President, but I often ran into him because our offices were so near to one another on the fifth floor of the Hart Building. So we would often go to and from the votes and we would have a chance to discuss matters in that way. Often at the termination of a vote I would go with him to his office or we would speak in the halls of the Hart Building and talk about the issues of the day.
Some time ago when JOHN seemed to be down, my friend, Alan Simpson and I decided we would have a nice, long chat with him and see what JOHN was about and see why he was not feeling so well. In the President's room here we spoke for about an hour and a half. We spoke about life in the Senate and, despite what it may appear sometimes in the press, it is not an easy life, not an easy life for the families, not an easy life for the individuals. On the other hand, it is a rich and rewarding life and, if one wants to have an impact on his time, it is certainly a life that can afford that.
We talked with JOHN about the special problems that he had because of his disabilities in this rather rushed and hectic life that we lead here in the Senate.
We stayed and we talked at some length, as I mentioned, and JOHN, indeed, was somewhat depressed and was not sure whether or not he wanted to continue to serve in the Senate, whether or not he would run again for office, and we tried to give him such encouragement as we could so that he would get more joy out of his service here than at least at that moment he seemed to be getting.
At other times, as I spoke with him in the halls and again on the way to and from the votes and again after the vote in the hall of the Hart Building, I thought that he had indeed recovered
his enthusiasm. He was once again making a valuable and an expansive and extensive commitment and contribution to the U.S. Senate.
He is a great loss, Mr. President. In our Jewish tradition, we feel that a person's life is eternal if it has an impact on others and if it changes the lives of other people, that a person lives eternally through his children and through those with whom he has contacts during his life span or her life span. JOHN EAST had an impact on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students in his years as a teacher. He had an impact on other Senators, on staff, on constituents while he was here. So certainly within the framework of that tradition, he will indeed live eternally and his service here to the Senate will be well remembered, well respected and he will be missed.
I yield the floor.
Mr. LAXALT. Mr. President, I rise today with a deep sense of sorrow over the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, JOHN EAST.
During the past 5½ years, I had the pleasure of knowing and working with JOHN in the Senate and, more particularly, on the Judiciary Committee.
JOHN went about his work in a quiet way and with a sense of commitment and devotion that truly set him apart. He was exceedingly bright and succeeded in accommodating the necessities of practical senatorial politics while strictly adhering to his firm-held philosophic beliefs.
JOHN'S background in political science provided this institution with a valuable asset. Indeed, he was unmatched in terms of his ability to understand and interpret political theories and philosophies. In addition, JOHN probably possessed the best working knowledge of American constitutional law in the Senate.
A testament to JOHN'S exceptional intellect will be the soon-to-be-released book he coauthored on leading conservative political thinkers in the country. I know my colleagues in the Senate would agree that JOHN EAST belongs among the outstanding people referred to in his book.
Aside from JOHN'S professional qualities, his personal traits were just as impressive. He was a trusted and respected friend. He shunned publicity, preferring the less glamourous route of enacting and supporting legislation he felt was in the best interests of this country.
I was fortunate to have the privilege of working with JOHN on the Subcommittee on Courts. His knowledge of the judiciary
was extensive and deep. We relied heavily on JOHN'S wealth of knowledge in matters pertaining to the courts. I watched with admiration as his subcommittee addressed the question of establishing an intercircuit tribunal. Although JOHN was opposed to the establishment of a new court, he made sure that all sides were heard from.
JOHN'S remarkably successful career in both academics and politics is even more impressive when considering the tremendous obstacles he had to overcome. Stricken by polio at a young age, JOHN nevertheless pursued his goals with determination and courage. The acclaim he won as a professor at East Carolina University was such that his fellow conservatives felt he should run for the U.S. Senate in 1980. His election was a tribute to his intellectual and political strength and was a key to the conservative revolution that swept the country in that year.
None of us will ever know the true depth of JOHN'S pain in the recent years. All we can do is appreciate his many accomplishments under the most trying circumstances, And we can be thankful for knowing JOHN EAST and for being able to call him a friend.
Our prayers are with Priscilla and the rest of the East family in this time of sorrow. We've lost a great man, but our Nation is certainly better for his work.
Mrs. KASSEBAUM. Mr. President, today I join with other Members of the Senate in mourning the loss of our friend and colleague, Senator JOHN EAST. All of us were saddened by the news of his death. We will miss the thoughtful determination and grace he demonstrated in this Chamber.
JOHN EAST was a man who knew his own mind and who was deeply committed to the principles he held dear. Whether one agreed or disagreed with his conclusions, he commanded respect as a courteous, thoughtful, and articulate spokesman for conservative values. His example helped force each of us to think more carefully and to speak more clearly on a wide range of issues. That was one of JOHN EAST'S unseen contributions to the work of the Senate.
Mr. WALLOP. Mr. President, JOHN EAST was my friend and I shall miss him sorely. JOHN was a philosopher. He loved to quote from Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Edmund Burke. Now in his passing, the words of Burke come to mind that describe the courage and resolve of JOHN EAST as Burke once said:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
That challenge against apathy was what JOHN EAST stood for. Faced with the personal affliction that restricted him to a wheelchair, it would have been easy for JOHN to do nothing. But apathy wasn't a part of JOHN EAST'S soul. He just didn't have it in him to sit back and do nothing.
Even when he lost his first congressional race to Walter Jones in 1966 and 2 years later lost to Thad Eure for North Carolina's secretary of state, JOHN didn't stop trying. In 1976, JOHN became a delegate to the Republican Convention and 4 years later he defeated Robert Morgan to become a U.S. Senator.
JOHN EAST was also a scholar. He graduated phi beta kappa from Earlham College in 1953. He earned a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1959. JOHN then went on to receive a master degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1964. This dedicated work as student led to a dedicated career as a professor of political science at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.
While in the Senate, JOHN served on the Armed Services Committee which also put him on the subcommittees: Manpower and Personnel; Military Construction; and Preparedness. JOHN also served on the Judiciary Committee and was chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts. He also served on the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism.
As a member of Armed Services, JOHN fought diligently to deploy the MX missile and to block a nuclear freeze. On Judiciary, JOHN labored to allow school prayers and limit abortions.
JOHN was always prepared to stand up for the things he believed, conforming his actions and thoughts to his conscience rather than to what often could have been the more popular and easier road. I remember in the lameduck session during December 1982 that JOHN stood fast and filibustered the Senate's effort to raise the Federal gasoline tax by a nickel a gallon. It was approaching Christmas and everyone was tired and wanting to go home for the holidays.
Alone, but resolute, JOHN faced an angry Senate. When Senator Hayakawa suggested that JOHN'S filibuster was contrary to the Democratic process, JOHN retorted:
With all due respect to my distinguished colleagues in this body—I revere every one of them, all 99 of them—I will not be in any way intimidated with the idea that some way or other by utilizing the rules of this body that I am doing something out of character. No, I am not. It has been done before. It
has been done and it will be done after I am gone and every Member of this Chamber is gone, because there is a feeling in this body whether it is consistent with democratic political theory; yes, it is. The Senate so thinks it is under its current rules in order to make sure what the majority does is not imprudent, is not ill-advised, is not done in a spirit of passion at a late hour.
The remarks of JOHN'S pastor, Reverend J. Malloy Owen, reflect this independent courage as he said of JOHN at the memorial service for him:
JOHN knew it didn't take many people to influence a nation. It just took some people who knew what they believed, were thoroughly convinced that they were right, and were willing to pay the price of being different.
I am going to miss Senator JOHN EAST. He was a friend, a colleague, and someone who when he gave his word, I knew I could count on it. From his influence and effort, all America became stronger and freer. I shall not forget JOHN and I am proud to know that for the rest of my life, I will be all the better for my friendship with him.
Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, it is with great sadness and deep sorrow that I comment on the recent death of a dedicated statesman, attorney, educator, and dear colleague, the late Senator JOHN P. EAST of North Carolina.
I am priviledged to have had the honor of serving in the Senate with JOHN and to have personally witnessed his tireless commitment to his country and the American people. But many of us know that his public service did not begin following his election to the Senate in 1980. JOHN served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a young man and later joined the staff at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, where for more than 16 years he cultivated young people's interest in politics. In addition, he faithfully served the Republican Party faithfully in various capacities, including national committeeman. I am well aware of how enlightening these experiences were for JOHN and how very dear they were to him.
The recipient of numerous awards and commendations as a result of his contributions, I think one of JOHN'S greatest distinctions was that of his selflessness in spite of personal illness. JOHN was a tenacious fighter and allowed no illness or handicap to deter him in representing the people of North Carolina. Through his important work on the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, particularly his leadership as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Courts, his efforts and ideals will continue.
JOHN leaves behind a loving wife and companion, Priscilla “Sis” East, and two daughters, Kathryn and Martha, as well as
other family members to whom I extend my personal condolences.
To quote Abraham Lincoln:
Let us have faith and right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.
This quote is a fitting tribute to Senator JOHN P. EAST. He did his duty as he understood it, and those of us in the Senate will miss him.
Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, when Senator JOHN P. EAST decided to leave us, we lost a dear friend of freedom and one of its most articulate spokesman. Senator EAST was fond of quoting Plato who is attributed with saying that, “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Senator EAST'S life is a testimony to the constant effort needed to be ruled by good men.
JOHN was a U.S. Marine lieutenant who became a lawyer and earned his doctorate as well. He was a respected university professor who chose to enter the battle for freedom as many marines do. Senator EAST fought for freedom in the realm of ideas. It is this realm which ultimately runs the world. In this the world of ideas, Senator EAST will be remembered as one who revered life and helped to articulate its cause for the unborn.
He was no stranger to the struggle for achievement. Not many people would have displayed his unusual courage and perseverance after a bout with polio in his young adult life. I believe that his courage is continuing after his earthly life. John Ayscough told us that “Death is but a sharp corner near the beginning of life's procession down eternity.” Senator EAST will most certainly be a leader in the procession down eternity, a conquest that should bring joy to our hearts. Or, as Mark Twain put it, “Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.”
In memory of Senator JOHN P. EAST, I would ask my colleagues and all Americans to honor life in all its aspects and to help protect and defend our country as the example of freedom for all other countries to follow.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I do not believe I can honor JOHN EAST with words any better than those already spoken by my distinguished colleagues.
JOHN was an honorable man, and an effective Senator for North Carolina. It was my honor to serve with him on the Judiciary
Committee, where he was an effective and eloquent advocate. He was soft-spoken by nature, yet steadfast in his commitment to the principles he believed in. His gentle manner only partially hid a strong will—which allowed him to carry on his duties in the face of an illness that would have overcome many of us.
I am comforted by the knowledge that JOHN rests with our Savior—at peace with himself—at peace with the world. JOHN would know as well as any of us that a moral life in this world is the best preparation for the next. Nevertheless, I mourn the loss of JOHN EAST—my colleague and friend.
Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. President, JOHN EAST and I were elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980. Although JOHN did not have any previous congressional experience, his legal background and scholarly expertise gave him an indepth understanding of the dynamics of both the political and legislative process. JOHN came to the Senate with a full agenda and a determination to see his goals achieved. But that was not to be. Members of the class of 1980 will miss him and especially miss his commitment to principles, his eloquence, and his humor. Though gone, he will not be forgotten.
Mr. BOREN. The Nation's wave of sympathy for JOHN EAST and his family after his tragic passing befits a man widely admired for supporting his convictions with courage.
But those of us who worked with him are particularly saddened. Every day, we benefited from the sincere kindness of a man who rose from great personal difficulty, without bitterness, to serve his fellow man.
This Senator will sorely miss JOHN EAST and his thoughtfulness to all those around him.
Mr. GARN. Mr. President, I join my colleagues today in paying tribute to Senator JOHN EAST. All of us feel deeply the loss of our good friend and, as always at time of tragedy, wonder why it had to be so.
None of us can answer those questions; only a greater intelligence than mankind possesses can do that. It is better for us, then, to celebrate the lives lived by those who are taken from us. And in JOHN'S case, there is much to celebrate.
He was a quiet, thoughtful man, not given to extremes of temperament, but thoroughly committed and dedicated to the ideals that he held. Though confined to a wheelchair since his early adulthood, he was not deterred by the hard work needed
to continue his career and meet the demands of his teaching responsibilities and, eventually, his Senate duties.
All of us know of the diligence with which he approached his position as Member of this body. He made a careful study of the issues confronting the Senate; he chose the timing and content of his remarks in this Chamber with care and substance, and he remained a gentleman in the course of often heated debate; he had learned that important ability to disagree without being disagreeable; he bore the burden of his handicap with dignity and courage, and never placed that burden at the doorstep of others; he was a man who had a tremendous strength of character, and upon whose word you could rely with utmost confidence; he spoke his mind and you knew where you stood with him. I respect that, and I respect JOHN EAST, and will always remember him as a man possessed of a superb intellect and a fine, upstanding and capable Member of this body.
Mr. MATHIAS. Mr. President, it is with great regret that we conduct Senate business today without one of our most courageous colleagues, JOHN EAST.
The important example of JOHN EAST'S life was his courage in confronting a massive handicap. Most of us require more than average energy just to fulfill our duties in the U.S. Senate. JOHN EAST had to find in himself additional strength to conduct the routines of daily life with polio. He did so with patience and kindness toward all those with whom he came in contact.
It was his will and his patience which helped him defy polio, the disease that struck him at the early age of 24. These qualities became his self-prescribed medicines against new illnesses before his death. While he could not get out of a chair without help, he could preside over the U.S. Senate as an act of will. JOHN EAST left us this legacy of his brave spirit, which will inspire all of us in adversity.
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, our colleague, JOHN P. EAST, was contemplating a return to the classroom at East Carolina University in Greenville when he died. He had only just finished reviewing proofs for a book to be published this coming fall. This was a man who understood the relationship between politics and the study of politics. My regard and fondness for JOHN EAST comes naturally enough, for my life, like his, has alternated between these two pursuits: Or, if you like, sanctuaries.
He was a professor of political science for 16 years before coming to this body, an outstanding lecturer, and prolific author.
When he died, I said:
JOHN was a teacher of government before he came to the Senate, and I for one learned a great deal from him during the years he was with us. He wore his learning gently, and was in every sense a gentle man whose kindness and thoughtfulness will be so much missed.
And it is.
And we are not alone in missing him. Six years after JOHN left East Carolina University's political science department to become a U.S. Senator, admiring students kept asking whether he would return to teach. Popular teachers are not always, or even often, recognized among their faculty peers as educators. JOHN EAST was—having twice received excellence in teaching awards by his university.
His scholarly work demonstrates breadth of subject matter, serious thought, and discipline generating a steady stream of articles ranging from foreign policy to philosophy to the conservative revival in American intellectual life. The forthcoming book is a reprisal of earlier essays of political theory.
He was uncomplaining, self-reliant, tough. His law degree, masters and Ph.D., and his success in academe were all earned after a bout with polio left him confined to a wheelchair.
When his February 3, 1981, maiden floor speech was not delivered in strict compliance with Senate rules, the freshman from Greenville was simple and matter of fact. He said, “Senator JOHN P. EAST did not stand while speaking because he was not physically able to do so.”
To JOHN, his handicap was a fact of life, a fact without political significance and correctly so. Those of us who remember him can never appreciate the pain he endured. We just know it did not deter him from his duties here.
It was not always easy. Architecturally, we were not quite ready, and modifications to the Capitol were needed. But JOHN was ever patient, positive, helpful, constructive. “You cannot constantly be waiting for the world to be perfect for you,” he said.
JOHN's life was a lesson to us all. A wonderful legacy for a man whose life's work was, after all, teaching.
Elizabeth and I join our colleagues in sending our love and deep sympathy to Sis and her two daughters, Kathryn and Martha. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Mr. President, JOHN EAST's numerous accomplishments are summerized in a curriculum vitae which includes a list of his publications. I ask that it be inserted in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:CURRICULUM VITAE OF JOHN PORTER EASTACADEMIC BACKGROUND
B.A. (Political Science), Earlham College, 1953; LL.B. (Law), University of Illinois, 1959; M.A. (Political Science), University of Florida, 1962; Ph.D. (Political Science), University of Florida, 1964.EMPLOYMENT
(1) Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps, 1953-1955.
(2) Professor of Political Science, East Carolina University, 1964-1980.
(3) United States Senator, 1980-1986. Committee Assignments: Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on the Separation of Powers, Chairman; Subcommittee on Courts, Chairman; Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure; Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism. Committee on Armed Services: Subcommittee on Manpower and Personnel, Subcommittee on Military Construction, Subcommittee on Preparedness. Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Supply, Subcommittee on Energy Regulation, Subcommittee on Energy Research and Development. Committee on Labor and Human Resources: Subcommittee on Labor, Subcommittee on Education, Subcommittee on the Handicapped.HONORS
(1) Membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Sigma Alpha.
(2) First place winner, law school Moot Court Competition (oral presentations and written briefs required).
(3) Recipient of a three year National Defense Fellowship for graduate study.
(4) Twice received “excellence-in-teaching” awards by East Carolina University.
(5) Among other directories, listed in: American Men of Science (Behavorial and Social Science Section); Who's Who in the South and Southwest; Who's Who.
(6) Member of the editorial boards of The Political Science Reviewer and Modern Age.
(7) Awarded a $4,700 Summer Fellowship Research Grant by the Earhart Foundation of Ann Arbor, Michigan.PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS (CURRENT AND PREVIOUS)
(1) American Political Science Association.
(2) Florida Bar Association.
(3) North Carolina Political Science Association.
(4) Southern Political Science Association.
(1) Book Reviews: numerous reviews published.
(2) Books: Council-Manager Government: The Political Thought of Its Founder, Richard S. Childs. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1965. The American Conservative Movement: Its Philosophical Founders. Chicago: Regnery Gateway. (Forthcoming, currently in galley form).
“Pragmatism and Behavioralism,” Western Political Quarterly, Vol. XXI, (December 1968).
“Containment—The Military Imperative,” The New Guard, Vol. IX, (February, 1969). Reprinted in Freedman Leonard (ed.) Issues of the Seventies. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1970.
“Conservatism and College Teaching,” The New Guard, Vol. X, (May, 1970). Reprinted in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.
“Student Radicalism and Moral Authority,” Politics 1970, Vol. 1, (May, 1970).
“Campus and the Vietnam War,” The New Guard, Vol. X, (October, 1970).
“Intellectual Decline on the American Campus,” Universitas, Vol. 11, No. 3, (November, 1971). Reprinted in Widening Horizons, Human Events, and elsewhere.
“The Political Relevance of St. Augustine,” Modern Age, Vol. XVI, (Spring, 1972).
“A Lesson in the ‘New Politics’,” Human Events, Vol. XXXIII, No. 29, (July 15, 1972).
“The Professor and His Identity Crisis,” Universitas, Vol. III, No. 2, (October, 1972).
“The Political Thought of Willmoore Kendall,” The Political Science Reviewer, Vol. III, 1973.1
“The Conservation of Frank Straus Meyer,” Modern Age, Vol. XVIII, (Summer, 1974).1
“Richard M. Weaver: The Conservation of Affirmation,” Modern Age, Vol. XIX, (Fall, 1975).1
“Leo Strauss and American Conservatism,” Modern Age, Vol. XXI, (Winter, 1977).1
“Eric Voegelin and American Conservative Thought,” Modern Age, Vol. XXII, (Spring, 1978).1
“American Conservative Thought: The Impact of Ludwig von Mises,” Modern Age, Vol. XXIII, (Fall, 1979).1
“The American Conservative Movement of the 1980's: Are Traditional and Libertarian Dimensions Compatible?” Modern Age, Vol. XXIV, (Winter, 1980).
“The Conservative Mission,” Modern Age, Vol. XXV, (Fall, 1981).
“Political Theory and Ideology,” The Intercollegiate Review, Vol. XVII, No. 2, (Spring/Summer, 1982).
“Russell Kirk as Political Theorist,” Modern Age, Vol. XXVIII, (Winter, 1984).1MARITAL STATUS
Wife, Priscilla; Children, Kathryn and Martha.[note]
Mr. GRAMM. Mr. President, it is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Senator JOHN EAST of North Carolina and recognize the magnitude of the loss the U.S. Congress has suffered.
It was my privilege to serve with Senator EAST on the Armed Services Committee, where he served with distinction and where his paramount concern with human liberty and a strong defense were ever visible. He understood the meaning and responsibilities of freedom and was a true advocate for the rights of the individual, fiscal discipline, and economic growth.
Senator EAST was a man whose adherence to great principles and permanent values elevated the Senate morally and whose extraordinary mind and scholarship enriched it intellectually.
As a university professor, JOHN EAST brought light and learning to his students, and as a U.S. Senator he brought light and learning to this body and to his colleagues. As a man who believed in the primacy of ideas, it was through his ideas that his influence was most greatly felt and through them that he shall endure. JOHN EAST has touched and enriched all of us who had the opportunity to know him, and he will not be forgotten.
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, it did not take a great deal of contact with JOHN EAST to sense the sincerity of his views or the depth of his convictions. He was a man who believed passionately in his vision of America. Some tend to denigrate that kind of commitment now—we talk in terms of the “relativity of values” and we use “the complexity of issues” as an excuse for delaying decisions. JOHN didn't do that. He respected and expected people to disagree with him—but he also respected and accepted his obligation to make a decision and seek to implement it. I find nothing dishonorable about that; indeed, I think we can find much that honors the man in the depth of his commitment.
I am sorry that JOHN was apparently unable to seek the support and assistance which so many of us would have been willing to give to him. But it was, perhaps, characteristic of him to believe that he was, as an individual, obligated to deal with the pain and pressure of his life as an individual. I wish it had been otherwise for I believe that JOHN made a contribution to the country and I am convinced that he would have continued to contribute to our national life when he returned to teaching after completing his service here.
As a teacher and as a colleague, JOHN forced the people he met to reexamine their own beliefs and reaffirm their own
values. In life as well as in death he forced many people to think.
My family and I extend our sympathy to all those who knew and loved our friend and colleague JOHN EAST.
Mr. MCCLURE. Mr. President, I rise to pay tribute to a friend and colleague who, for all his considerable accomplishments, will be remembered most because he was a compassionate, courageous human being.
JOHN EAST was the type of person who saw wrong and wanted to right it, who saw a splendid vision of America and wanted to help push the country to it, who embraced freedom and wanted desperately to see that those who live under oppression and tyranny could embrace it as well.
He was a man who, in the prime of his life, was struck down by polio just a year before discovery of the vaccine. Yet he was not bitter or sullen and refused to curl up with self-pity. He was a man who had things to do, and confinement to a wheelchair was not about to stop him. His outlook on life might be characterized best by a spirited comment he made several years ago, when he conceded he was no longer part of the socalled able-bodied class, but still an enthusiastic member of the able-bodied world.
JOHN EAST was a scholar of prolific achievement, earning bachelors, masters, and law degrees by the time he was 31. Two years later, he was a Ph.D. and well on his way to a distinguished career of public service, as a university professor, party committeeman, convention delegate, and U.S. Senator.
JOHN was an intellect of the highest order, with an affinity for weaving Thomas Aquinas, Edmund Burke, Plato, and Cicero into our debates and discussions. That background as a scholar and professor served him—and this body—exceedingly well in his 5½ years on Capitol Hill. It tended to place him above the political fray and into a class all his own.
JOHN was a statesman in the truest sense of the word: Unsurpassed integrity, keen insight, intense loyalty to friends and party, and an unquenchable thirst for work. The latter, I think, was exemplified last year when, shortly after recovering from a long illness, he worked doggedly on a Courts Subcommittee measure to create a new court of appeals that would help relieve the Supreme Court of its workload.
Outside the Senate, he was perhaps most well known as an articulate, forthright standard bearer of the conservative cause that he helped usher into never before seen popularity.
But more than any one issue or piece of legislation, JOHN EAST's legacy in the Senate will be reflected in his contribution to what he termed the “national dialog.” From communication, he said, “legislation will flow * * * and a better understanding of ideas and philosophy will come forth.”
As we go about our business here, it is sometimes easy to become immersed in the more procedural aspects of legislating—the day to day, nuts and bolts issues, if you will. But JOHN EAST was a constant reminder to us that ideas do indeed matter, that they have consequences, and that we need to step back at times and examine the broader philosophical ramifications of our work. In doing this, he reinforced the tradition of the U.S. Senate as a truly deliberative body.
Sadly, the national dialog has lost one of its important voices. But we must not dwell on losses, just as JOHN never dwelled on losses. We must find solace in the fact we had the good fortune of knowing, and serving with, JOHN EAST for as long as we did.
I thank the majority leader for setting this time aside today to pay tribute to our friend from North Carolina.
Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I join my colleagues in the Senate today in expressing respect and affection for our departed friend, JOHN EAST.
No other Senator, that I know of, brought to this job a greater sense of duty, responsibility, or purpose than JOHN EAST did when he took the oath of office. He worked hard, and long, to uphold the tradition of excellence that the Senate enjoys as an institution.
Senator JOHN EAST loved and appreciated the Senate, and by his service in this body he added an extra dimension of respect to it.
His work here was in keeping with the exhortation of Edmund Burke, who said a representative of the people owes them more than just his industry, he also owes them his good judgment. JOHN EAST had strong convictions. He was a man of carefully constructed views and principles, and he based all he did here upon those firmly held beliefs.
He was not, therefore, merely a pleader for parochial interests. He spoke up for his State of North Carolina with effect, but his work had substance to it as well. He made that his hallmark here, in the Senate.
I was very impressed with JOHN EAST and his understanding of the traditions and the role of the Senate. We miss him.
My sincerest best wishes go out to his wife, Sis, and his entire family. They all made sacrifices so that our country and the Senate could have the benefit of the excellent service of JOHN EAST.
Mr. CHAFEE. Mr. President, we mourn the passing of our friend JOHN EAST. The biography of him set forth that he is a man of 55, born in North Carolina. He had a distinguished career, Phi Beta Kappa from college. He was a college professor. Then he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
There are three characteristics that I particularly remember of JOHN EAST.
First of all, he was a man of strong beliefs. He was not a passive onlooker at the scene of life. He had beliefs and feelings on what took place, domestically and internationally, and he spoke out about those. So, first, it was his strong beliefs.
Second, I remember him for his courage, both his physical courage and his moral courage.
As we all know, JOHN EAST was physically afflicted and was, in a sense, confined to a wheelchair. But why do I say in a sense? Because, in fact, he was not bound by the limitations of his physical afflication. It did not limit him in any way.
His courage was demonstrated, furthermore, by the fashion in which he spoke out. He was not one to trim his sails to popular opinion. JOHN EAST called the shots as he saw them and spoke out vigorously for the beliefs and feelings that he had.
So, first it was his strong beliefs and second, was his courage.
Third, the warmth of his personality. JOHN EAST was a man who always had a cheerful and friendly smile and greeting. He was a person you were glad to see. Despite the problems, the physical difficulties that he might have had, it did not cause him to be a sad and glum person.
JOHN EAST was rightfully a hero to many.
The loss of JOHN EAST is so sad. It is sad for his family. It is sad for his friends. It is sad for the people of North Carolina, and the people of the United States likewise. And it is sad for all of us because, obviously, he was discouraged and upset. We can only ask ourselves, could we have reached out our hands and hearts to a greater degree than we did.
I think that is a feeling and question that every single one of us in the Senate have asked ourselves.
So we truly mourn the passing of JOHN EAST. We think of his strong beliefs. We think of his courage. We think of the warmth of his personality. We will miss him. From his loss, we
receive new inspiration to be better Members of this body and of the fellowship of mankind.
Mr. HUMPHREY. Mr. President, JOHN EAST was here among us in the Senate Chamber just days ago. And now he is gone. We miss him.
JOHN EAST was a fine man and a great servant of his State and our country. He was not given to theatrics, he was a sincere man. He was calm and temperate, because he had a consistent set of principles and stuck by them. JOHN was not much affected by the passing fads of this worldly city on the Potomac. He knew his own mind, he knew his principles, and he was confident in both. He was more than confident, he was courageous.
Maybe JOHN EAST was too good for Washington. He was a man of logic, not emotion. He was a man of principle, not political pragmatism. Already burdened by a physical disability, he was, I suspect, further burdened and saddened at the intellectual dishonesty that too often passes for policymaking in this city.
JOHN was a bright man, an intellectual, a scholar. He spoke only when he had something important to say. Historians will find in his remarks clear analyses of the problems facing our Nation in this age.
JOHN was vigilant to see that our Government fulfilled its primary role, to secure the inalienable, God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In that effort, he was an outspoken defender of the right to life of unborn children.
North Carolina and America were fortunate to have JOHN EAST in the Senate of the United States. Despite his affliction, he stood taller than most of us in this body. God rest his soul. I salute a fine man, a distinguished colleague, and a friend.
Mr. President, I extend my sympathies to Senator EAST'S wife, Sis, and to his children and his family and friends.
Mr. DURENBERGER. Mr. President, I rise regretfully to add my few words to the collective expression of this body of our love and sadness over the passing of JOHN EAST. The only solace I can find is in believing that he is now at rest and that he taught us much while he was among us.
I first met JOHN EAST in 1978, when I was then a long-shot candidate for the Senate. JOHN had traveled to Minnesota as North Carolina's National Republican Committeeman. I gave a speech to a large group at the Governor's residence about the kind of Senator I hoped to be. JOHN came up to me afterwards and told me he was positive that I would win my election. He
may have been the only convert that night. Imagine my surprise when 2 years later this wheelchair-bound professor from North Carolina followed me into the Senate and enabled me to serve in a Senate majority.
JOHN taught me, by his daily example, the capability of the human spirit to overcome and persevere. Afflicted as a young man with crippling polio, he had to cope with countless obstacles of daily life that the rest of us hardly think of. He did so admirably. Even a glimpse of JOHN moving through the Capitol in his wheelchair or exercising in the Russell gymnasium reminded me of how minor were the problems with which I was preoccupied on a given day and how fortunate I was. And I grieved with all Members when his hardship was compounded by the onset of hypothyroidism. It is indeed hard to imagine how a person could sustain himself under such a double blow.
It is fitting on this occasion to praise the courage and determination of JOHN EAST in living out his convictions and serving at great personal cost. It is equally appropriate, Mr. President, that we as a body pause a moment and examine our own lives against the example that JOHN set and learn from the life he lived.
Mr. HELMS. This means a great deal to me personally, and to JOHN EAST's family and to the fine staff that he assembled, to hear words from distinguished Americans such as the Presiding Officer of the Senate at the moment (Mr. Goldwater) and Senator Denton, of Alabama, who will always be a foremost American hero to me.
In all of our tributes to our fallen friend, it ought not to be overlooked that Senator EAST possessed a remarkable sense of humor. I remember his rolling into this Chamber for a vote on one occasion about 3 o'clock in the morning. He motioned to me and I went over and he said, with a broad grin, “You did not tell me it was going to be like this.”
Then I heard him say of the media on one occasion—and the media gave him a hard time, constantly—he said, “The nicest thing the media ever said about me is that I am balding.”
JOHN, of course, was bald. He said, “Balding? I am not balding. I am bald. Helms is balding.”
He was quick witted and he was slow to take offense. As a matter of fact, I know of very few occasions when JOHN was offended by the harsh things that were said by the liberals
about him and the principles in which he believed and for which he stood so gallantly.
JOHN EAST's character, ability, and dedication, Mr. President, were not known merely in this body or in this city or in the State of North Carolina, but throughout the country. In my travels around America, inevitably people would say, “You are blessed with a fine colleague.” I would say, “You are certainly right about that.” Then statements would be made indicating an awareness of the courage and principles of this remarkable American, JOHN EAST.
As an indication, and just one indication, I have in hand a resolution passed by the legislature of the State of Louisiana, which was received by the Vice President of the United States. I feel it is appropriate at this time to read this resolution into the Record because it is a measurement of the respect in which JOHN EAST was held. I shall read it in its entirety.HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 256
Whereas, Senator JOHN P. EAST of North Carolina, born on May 5, 1931 in Springfield, Illinois, was an exemplary public servant, a man of patriotism, with a keen intellect; and
Whereas, Senator EAST was a man of academic distinction who graduated from Earlham College in Indiana, where he was selected as a member of the honorable and prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Fraternity; the University of Illinois, where he received a law degree; and the University of Florida, where he received a master's degree and a doctorate in political science; and
Whereas, throughout his life Senator EAST exemplified an unyielding belief in principle and the determination to keep our country strong; and
Whereas, this dedication was exhibited through his service in the United States Marine Corps, as a college professor, as the junior United States Senator from North Carolina, and in two campaigns for the United States House of Representatives and for secretary of state for North Carolina; and
Whereas, Senator EAST bravely fought against serious health problems throughout much of his life and dealt with them with the same fortitude and strength that he demonstrated in public life; and
Whereas, Senator EAST was an able and thoughtful leader and modern day philosopher of Republican conservatism in the United States, whose views and positions have been important influences in our political system; and
Whereas, the contributions of Senator EAST and the principles he stood for shall long be remembered by the many persons who were influenced by the reasoning and logical thought of this man of quiet dignity and conviction.
Therefore, be it resolved that the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Legislature of Louisiana do hereby remember Senator JOHN P. EAST for his years of dedication to the finer ideals of life and for his selfless and dedicated service to his community and nation.
Be it further resolved that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby express to his family and his colleagues in the United States Senate its sincere condolences at the loss of this special man who gave so much.
Be it further resolved that a copy of this Resolution shall be forwarded to his wife, Priscilla “Sis” East; his two daughters, Kathryn East and Martha East; and to the President of the United States Senate.
This concurrent resolution is signed by the speaker of the house and the president of the senate.
Mr. President, that just about says it all. I thank the Chair.
Mr. DOLE. Mr. President, on the day we returned from our Fourth of July recess, I expressed my profound sorrow over the death of our colleague JOHN EAST.
As I said then, JOHN was a very special individual who added much to this institution and the lives of all who work here.
So many things that we take for granted, things as simple as striding onto the Senate floor to vote, or rushing to catch a train back to our office, JOHN EAST could not do. Stricken by polio as a young adult, JOHN determined to make something of himself—to use his marvelous intellectual talents for the greater good.
And in his example, millions of disabled Americans can find not only the inspiration, but the proof that they too can lead productive lives.
For JOHN EAST studied, became a lawyer, a political scientist, and a college professor. But perhaps most importantly, for those of us who knew him here in Washington and back home in North Carolina, he became a dedicated and effective public servant.
As I have said earlier, during the 5 years he spent in the Senate I grew to admire and respect the way JOHN used his considerable knowledge to promote ideas that he believed were for the public good.
The Senate has had few Members as literate and eloquent as JOHN EAST. As a matter of fact, he was called the resident scholar of the class of 1980. At ease quoting Plato, or Edmund Burke, JOHN could be a daunting debater and fierce advocate—whether the issue involved the restoration of traditional family values—or the role the United States played in the family of nations.
JOHN EAST was a unique man, and made a unique contribution to American public life. His presence here in the Senate will be sorely missed.
Once again, I want to extend my sincere sympathy to Senator EAST'S wife and two daughters, all his family, his friends, and the thousands of constituents he served so well in North Carolina.
Mr. President, I think it has been stated and restated a number of times by our colleagues, both on the Senate floor and privately, that JOHN was unique in many ways, whether it was his ability to articulate his point of view, whether it was his philosophy, whether it was his faith, whether it was his ability to deal with disagreement, or whether just his way of getting along with all of us in this Chamber.
As I indicated then, there is a highly charged political atmosphere in the Senate from time to time. We feel strongly about our views, whether we are Republicans or Democrats. There are times when I think somebody just watching the U.S. Senate might believe we really do not care much for one another. And, at times, they might be right. But I would guess that in the case of JOHN EAST, despite his firmly held views, there is no one in this Chamber who did not respect him, respect his point of view, and if they had the opportunity to come to know JOHN EAST, to respect him for the man he was.
So, Mr. President, as I said that day, some people make a difference in their lifetime. I guess most people make a difference some way. But some people make a difference that affects thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions of people. They may do it by what they say, they may do it by how they conduct themselves, they may do it and not even recognize it. I think JOHN EAST was in the latter category.
He never sought headlines, never sought publicity, never sought to do anything but conduct himself as he should in the U.S. Senate. Although I do not think JOHN considered it a struggle, anybody looking from the outside and seeing JOHN come in in his wheelchair and knowing that, in effect, he lived in that chair every day, I believe it was an example of courage. His courage meant a lot, not only to a lot of friends and colleagues, but to many people who may have just seen JOHN and met him, maybe on the political trail, maybe on the Senate floor, maybe from the gallery. I think his courage above all, is something that did make a difference.
I recall my last conversation with JOHN when he was about where he normally was, to the right of the table in front of us, waiting to vote in his proper turn. We had a rather close vote, one that I was interested in. I said, “JOHN, could you help me on this?”
He said, “Well, if you really need it,” and he did.
I think maybe one other time, I asked JOHN EAST on a rather tough vote in 1982 on a tax bill, a tough vote for someone from North Carolina. The final vote was 50 to 47, and without the 2 votes from the Senators from North Carolina, it would
have been the other way. It would have been 49 to 48, if I added it up right, and the tax bill of 1982 would have been defeated. That, to me, was certainly a courageous act by both Senators, Senator EAST and Senator Helms.
So I would guess that more than JOHN knew, maybe even more than his family may know, he had a great impact on many of us. Because, like Senator Helms, I have traveled around the country some and I have had an opportunity to see a lot of people. Many, many times, JOHN EAST'S name was mentioned for his philosophy, for his courage, for his dedication, for his support of President Reagan. He never veered from that, except in exceptional circumstances that affected his State.
Again, I join my colleagues in expressing our gratitude for having known JOHN EAST and also in expressing our sympathy to his family, his wife, and daughters.
I think Senator Denton probably said it better than I am able. What we want to remember about JOHN EAST is what we all want to be—to be tolerant of one another, to respect one another in this Chamber, respect each other's views, though we may have rather sharp disagreements; not to complain about our own situation, whatever it may be; and to look to the future—and there is a future for America. JOHN who made an enormous contribution as a teacher, never retreated from his optimism, his hope for America's young people.
Mr. COHEN. Mr. President, I rise to offer a few brief comments in memory of my colleague, JOHN EAST.
I recall that Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., once made the statement that life is action and passion and one must share in that action and passion at the risk of being judged not to have lived. I think perhaps more than any other person in this Chamber, JOHN EAST believed deeply in that particular statement and philosophy and lived it.
He was certainly a man of action. Anyone who is in this Chamber can recall the many nights that JOHN would be sitting at the rear of this Chamber in his wheelchair, not flinching from the hour or indeed, from the display of anger or irritation by some of the Members who wanted to end the turmoil of the evening and go home. But JOHN felt compelled to speak what was on his mind because he was not only a man of action but a man of great passion.
He believed passionately in his conviction about this country's national defense. I know the Senator from Arizona, presently sitting in the Chair, who chairs the Armed Services Committee,
will attest to Senator EAST's strong commitment to national defense, he was always an aggressive, articulate voice on behalf of our armed services. At a time when it was not popular to be so, at a time when many were requesting deep and dramatic reductions in the defense budget, it was always Senator EAST who sat in the rear of this Chamber and was willing to speak up in his country's interest. So he believed in Oliver Wendell Holmes’ philosophy.
Senator Dole a moment ago mentioned courage. Again, I do not know of anyone I can point to who had more courage, if you define courage as facing adversity without losing faith. JOHN EAST faced a great deal of adversity. He had a serious physical handicap. Many of us would have, I think, given up to despair a long time ago just living with that particular handicap. Somehow, JOHN EAST always came into this Chamber, always came into the Senate hearings with a sense of courtesy, compassion, and a measure of levity, because he was willing to smile in spite of the pain that he might have been experiencing at the moment.
One of the last times I saw Senator EAST, I was in the Senate gymnasium, preparing to go through a vigorous workout. He was completing a number of laps in the pool, trying to get some exercise for his legs. Following that, he went into the weight room and started on a new weight lifting program. And it struck me as being curious at the time that someone in JOHN's state of being and his particular age would suddenly take up weight lifting. Hopefully several of us in this Chamber inspired him to do that.
But it showed me something about courage again, courage to start something new, to try and do something with himself, to improve himself even under the extraordinary circumstances with which he had to contend.
None of us are in a position to pass judgment on what pressures any individual must bear or fail to bear, to what depths of despair a person might sink in order to say that life is no longer worth living. But I do know this much about JOHN, that each of us, it has been said, stands upon the verge of crumbling time. We live, we love, we laugh, we pass away, and we mingle with the dust. But this much we know—that a good and noble life enriches all of us.
So I take this occasion to say to JOHN's family and his friends that he was a good and noble man, and his life has enriched all of us.
Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, I speak today to join with my colleagues in mourning the loss of Senator JOHN EAST of North Carolina, but also to celebrate his service to this Nation.
A relatively young man when he died more than 3 weeks ago, Senator EAST had lived many years since his active youth with several physical ailments, the most difficult of which was polio.
Each day we saw JOHN EAST's courage as he came to the Senate floor or to committee work. Never—in my experience with him, nor to my knowledge in the experience of any other Senator—did JOHN EAST once complain of his afflictions nor ask for special consideration. That experience will always remain an example to me, as well as to millions of disabled Americans.
Senator EAST came to us from East Carolina University, where he had taught before beginning his Senate service and where he was returning upon completion of that service. I saw the professor in JOHN EAST in the sense of his ability to marshall his remarkable intellectual powers in the consideration of public policy. JOHN EAST may have been disabled physically—but he was most extraordinarily able intellectually.
Senator EAST also was a man of principle. I suspect that none of us ever had any difficulty in knowing where he stood on an issue. Those who would waiver and obfuscate on questions of public policy saw him as unreasonably obstructionist and hardheaded. Others of us saw him as a Senator willing to make difficult decisions—and stand by those decisions.
How ironic that he expressed concern in a 1983 interview about being seen as “contentious and shallow.” JOHN EAST was found of quoting Plato and Edmund Burke. I suspect that JOHN would be satisfied knowing that we would come to remember him by a statement of Edmund Burke about public servants. In 1769 in “Observations on a Publication, ‘The present state of the Nation,’ ” Edmund Burke said, “It is a general popular error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.”
Mr. President, U. S. Senator JOHN EAST of North Carolina was neither loud nor a complainer. But he most certainly was anxious for the Nation's welfare. That is how I shall remember him as a Senator—and as a dutiful servant of his country.
Mr. HECHT. Mr. President, when I first came to the U.S. Senate in 1983, I was impressed by the many great statesmen and leaders that comprised this Chamber. Yet among this group of distinguished politicians, one man instantly gained
my respect. He generally adopted a low profile and concentrated his every effort on the restoration of traditional family values. In the words of President Reagan, he was a “true patriot” who was “never flamboyant or interested in personal acclaim.” This man was my late colleague, and friend, Senator JOHN P. EAST.
Confined to a wheelchair in 1955 after contracting polio at the age of 24, JOHN never let his disability control his life. Unable to completely use his body, he channeled his energies into developing his mind. Following a year of recuperation and treatment for polio, he entered the University of Illinois College of Law and received his degree in 1959. But his commitment to education continued as the Senator next earned his masters and doctorate degrees in political science at the University of Florida. Upon completion of these studies, he began a 16-year tenure at East Carolina in Greenville, NC. He held this job until he undertook his bid for the U.S. Senate in 1980.
Upon entering the Senate, JOHN established a record as one of the most loyal party members. He supported the efforts of the President, while articulating his own New Right views. As Senator EAST, he led the fight to return prayer to public schools. He also was a staunch opponent of abortion, supporting legislation that would declare a fetus a human being at the moment of conception. Always an eloquent speaker, JOHN would punctuate his arguments with the words of the great Western thinkers, such as Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Mr. President, JOHN EAST served in this great body for almost 6 years through great personal trial. I applaud his courage, his dedication to office, and his commitment to restoring the traditional family values that he felt this Nation had abandoned. JOHN EAST was a good friend, Mr. President, and a good Senator. But most importantly, he was a great man. We are better off for having known him, and he will be missed by this institution and the Nation that he dearly loved.
Mr. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. President, along with the Senator from Washington, I was privileged to be JOHN EAST'S seatmate on the floor of the Senate. I also had that privilege sitting one seat down from him on the Republican side of the table in the Senate Armed Services Committee. And because I was so fortunate as to have that good stroke, I also had the good fortune of getting to know well a man of rare eloquence, rare decency, a man that the eloquent tributes this morning have made plain was one of the most valued Members of this body.
I think one of the greatest compliments that has been paid me in my brief service in this body was on those occasions when—as he did once or twice—JOHN EAST turned thoughtfully to me and said “Pete, what do you think?” I valued his good opinion. I was complimented by the fact that he would ask for my view of a particular problem because it was a rare day when JOHN had not analyzed thoroughly every problem and come to a logical conclusion. But his conclusions were more than simply the fruit of logic. They were the fruit of deep compassion and conviction.
Mr. President, the death of any man diminishes every man. But when that man is a dear friend and a deeply respected colleague like JOHN EAST, the loss is especially painful. His departure leaves us all more than a little lonelier, more than a little impoverished in thought and thoughtfulness, and more than ever in need of his singular brand of courage. But in our pain and his loss, we are obliged to comprehend and celebrate his life.
A teacher before he came to the Senate, JOHN EAST—by his example, daily—became a teacher to those of us privileged to be his Senate colleagues: JOHN'S whole life was a lesson in what one man, armed with passionate conviction and fortified by conscience, could achieve in the face of personal adversity and political indifference. Because he lived, the cause of freedom lives, too, in corners of the globe far removed from his native North Carolina, but right next door to his ample heart and rigorous intellect. Because of his ideas, the idea of liberty holds sway wherever men and women cling to a faith in God and a belief in His ultimate triumph.
As an advocate, he stood for decency, duty, and strength. And as a scholar, JOHN EAST reminded us that there are principles more enduring than any poll result. Today, as memories of my friend fill this Chamber, I think it only appropriate to turn, as JOHN so often did for perspective, to a classical historian. It was the ancient Greek chronicler Thucydides who said of Athens that “when you feel her greatness, remember that this greatness was won by men with courage, with knowledge of their duty, and with a sense of honor in their action * * *. The whole Earth is sepulcher of famous men,” he continued, “and their story is not graven only on stone over their native Earth, but lives on far away, without visible symbol, woven into the stuff of other men's lives.”
JOHN EAST was just such a man—of rare courage, with a clear knowledge of his duty, and a strong sense of honor. He was a man whose life enriched the lives of others.
Mr. President, today is a time not alone to recall our cherished colleague, but, as he should remind us, more important, to rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he lived—and through which he continues to live—woven into the stuff of other men's lives.
Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, it is with a sense of overwhelming sadness—but also a sense of profound gratitude—that I rise to pay tribute to a good friend, the late Senator JOHN EAST.
The untimeliness of his passing compounds the incredible sense of loss we feel as his colleagues. I know these feelings must be magnified many times over in the hearts of his family—and I want to take a moment to express my condolences once again to Priscilla East and their daughters, Kathryn and Martha.
Yet, these feelings of grief and loss are lightened somewhat by a sense of gratitude for the life of this great public servant—and stirring memories of who and what JOHN EAST was.
As I sift through these memories, one word comes to mind to describe JOHN EAST: Courage.
The courage to overcome a debilitating handicap—the courage to leave a safe and rewarding career in educating for the rough-and-tumble of Washington politics—the courage to plug on in the face of a withering illness that took a toll much more terrible than any of us could have imagined.
But even above all that, the courage to hold fast to principle in the face of bitter, venomous and sometimes almost hysterical opposition from the press, the liberal Washington establishment, and even some of his colleagues.
That kind of courage helped JOHN EAST stand out from his colleagues—not because he was a loner; he was anything but that. He was a warm and personable human being and a valued friend, and I am told that he was particularly popular as a professor because he always had time for his students despite a heavy lecture schedule. No, JOHN stood out because he was not afraid to be an intellectual in a body of politicians—even in a city where conservative intellectualism was once thought to be a contradiction in terms. He could bravely pursue the consequences of an idea no matter what political thicket it might lead him into.
His untimely death is especially cruel, because one of those ideas was that every life had value—even life inside the womb. I well remember the heady days when Senator EAST seized the attention of the Nation by daring to hold a set of hearings to
examine that proposition publicly—when others would not touch the issue with a 10-foot pole.
He brandished other unconventional ideas with the same relish—for example, the idea that Congress could and should limit the jurisdiction of a judicial juggernaut, the idea that the concept of federalism had continued vitality, and the idea that traditional values still had something to offer America even in our day and age.
In mourning Senator EAST, I am reminded of the words written by Walter Lippman as he mourned another political figure who had shared JOHN's handicap, Franklin Roosevelt. “The final test of a leader,” Lippman wrote, “is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.”
Senator JOHN EAST was a leader in every sense of the word. And because of his courage, the force of his formidable intellect, and his adherence to moral principle, he has left a great legacy of conservative convictions behind him. He has left those convictions among his students and others he met through his active participation in the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and his promotion of the study of traditional American values. I know he has left that kind of conviction among his colleagues and his family and even among many who once opposed him.
But I hope that all of us will draw from his legacy of courage the will to carry on his unending search for truth and justice wherever that search may lead. I know that is the legacy he really would have wanted.
Let me close by saying that I have a lot of personal respect for JOHN EAST and his family. I sat with him on the Judiciary Committee for his entire tenure in the U.S. Senate.
I have seen him stand up on issues that were very difficult to stand up on. I have seen him set an example that was second to none. I have seen him here late at night, crippled as he was and worn out as he was, go through that debilitating physical problem he had, which probably should not have occurred. I have seen him do it with courage.
The Thursday before he died, I went up to him here in the well of the Senate and put my arm around him and asked how he was, and he said he was fine. He seemed upbeat and very happy. It was a late day, as I recall—at least, it was in the early evening—and it was not untypical for JOHN EAST to give of himself to the U.S. Senate and to the people he represented and served.
I had a brother-in-law who had a similar affliction, and my brother-in-law was in a wheelchair as well. I have to say that the greatest man I have ever met, outside of my father—maybe a few in this body—was that brother-in-law who, day in and day out, went through college, got his master's degree in engineering, and worked every day until the day of his death. He set such an example of courage to me that it has been an inspiration to me ever since. Every time I start to feel that things are tough or moan about how difficult life is or feel sorry for myself, I think of that brother-in-law. JOHN EAST reminded me more than any other person of this brother-in-law whom I deeply loved and still do love. I loved JOHN EAST too, and I feel badly because this has happened. There are not many people who could claim to have left the legacy that our friend has left to us.
I just want to pay my total respect to JOHN. I know he is up there, listening to us, and he is in a happy place. I am glad that he is in a happy place.
I miss him personally in this body, and I hope that his family is comforted by the thought that many of us feel deeply about him and the legacy he left, the teachings he left with us, the philosophy that he espoused, and of course the feelings he showed to each of us—the brotherhood and kindness and decency that we do not find too often in many of our fellow citizens.
Mr. QUAYLE. Mr. President, I rise this morning to join in paying tribute to the memory of our late distinguished colleague, Senator JOHN P. EAST of North Carolina. Senator EAST and I were fellow members of the Senate class of 1980, and I was privileged to serve with him on the Committee on Labor and Human Resources in the 97th and 98th Congresses and on the Committee on Armed Services in the 98th and 99th Congresses. I admired JOHN EAST as a man, valued him as a colleague, and mourn his loss as a friend.
When the senior Senator from North Carolina, Senator Helms, took the floor upon the Senate's recent return from its Independence Day recess to report formally the tragic death of his beloved colleague, he praised Senator EAST as “a profile in courage.”
Courage, indeed, is a common theme of so many of the newspaper editorials and public statements about JOHN EAST that were made in the wake of his death on June 29. And as I speak of JOHN EAST's life this morning, I am reminded of this
stirring verse from the 1662 Prayer Book of the Church of England: “Sing praises lustily unto him with a good courage.”
Mr. President, Marilyn and I traveled to Greenville, NC, on July 1 to attend the memorial service for JOHN EAST at Jarvis Memorial Methodist Church. There we heard JOHN's pastor, the Reverend J. Malloy Owen III, deliver a stirring eulogy in which he sang the praises of JOHN EAST as a man who was “willing to pay the price of being different.”
JOHN EAST evinced this strength of character when he attended Earlham College at Richmond in my home State of Indiana. Earlham is a Quaker school with an abiding tradition of political liberalism. But JOHN EAST was not afraid to be different. A political science major, JOHN was a champion debater, an outspoken exponent of conservatism who nonetheless counted many liberals among his closest friends. He believed in civil, temperate discourse, and he always could distinguish between a classmate and that classmate's ideology.
Earlham's faculty quickly recognized the extraordinary intellectual talent in their midst. Former Congressman David W. Dennis of Richmond has recalled that his father, William Cullen Dennis, who was president of Earlham, regarded JOHN EAST as the brightest student whom he had ever taught.
JOHN EAST'S steller academic performance at Earlham earned him a full scholarship to the prestigious University of Chicago Law School. But first, his country needed him. A football player at Earlham, JOHN joined the branch of the military with perhaps the most rigorous physical demands—the U.S. Marine Corps. After 2 years as a lieutenant, JOHN left the service to begin law school.
Only 2 weeks after leaving the Marines, however, JOHN learned that he had contracted polio from a Marine camp swimming pool that was contaminated with the disease virus. JOHN EAST would never walk again. As Reverend Owen observed in his eulogy: “Most of us would have crawled into a corner and watched television for the rest of our lives. But not JOHN EAST.”
JOHN had to forgo his scholarship at the University of Chicago because that law school's facilities were not yet accessible to the handicapped. Instead, he attended the University of Illinois School of Law, where he distinguished himself in moot court competition. One of JOHN'S teachers at Earlham, the eminent Quaker philosopher Elton Trueblood, remembers visiting JOHN EAST at the University of Illinois and seeing him pull himself up the stairs of his home with a pulley. Dr. Trueblood
regards that memory as symbolic of how JOHN EAST lived.
After graduating from law school in 1959, JOHN and his wife, Priscilla, whom he met at Earlham and married in 1953, moved to Florida. After passing that State's bar examination, JOHN practiced law for a year. But JOHN EAST, the intellectual, yearned for the life of the mind and for his first academic love, political science. So he enrolled in the graduate school of the University of Florida, earning his master's and doctoral degrees in that field by 1964. Soon thereafter, JOHN accepted a teaching post at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, where he served as an unusually popular and respected professor until his election to the Senate in 1980.
And so, Mr. President, we know that JOHN EAST had the enormous courage to rise above the crippling blow of polio to earn law, master's, and doctoral degrees. But JOHN EAST was not content to rest even upon these laurels. He was not content to teach political science only as theory. He yearned also to put it into practice. And again JOHN had the courage not to be afraid to be different. In an eastern North Carolina congressional district with a better than 30 to 1 party registration disadvantage, he ran in 1966 for the U.S. House of Representatives as a conservative Republican. Although he lost, JOHN EAST won a remarkable 40 percent of the vote and the lasting respect of North Carolina political observers.
After losing another political race, this one for North Carolina Secretary of State in 1968, JOHN found another way to serve. He led the forces of then former California Governor Ronald Reagan on the platform committee of the 1976 Republican National Convention at Kansas City. And early in 1977, JOHN EAST was chosen to represent North Carolina on the Republican National Committee.
Already carrying a full load of teaching responsibilities at East Carolina, as well as serving on the Republican National Committee, in 1980 JOHN EAST undertook yet another strenuous political campaign, running for the U.S. Senate. This time, however, he won, upsetting the incumbent U.S. Senator, Robert Morgan.
In the Senate, JOHN EAST quickly demonstrated more of the courage that brought him here. In the face of fierce criticism by his philosophical adversaries, Senator EAST held an important series of hearings on the pro-life legislation known as the human life bill. In doing so, Senator EAST helped give a clear focus to the fundamental, scientific question of the abortion debate—when does human life begin?
Although Senator EAST'S hearings did not lead to the passage of the human life bill by Congress, they contributed mightily to the political and legal debate concerning the enduringly controversial 1973 abortion decision in the case of Roe versus Wade.
As a lawyer and a political scientist, Senator EAST devoted much of his energies and enthusiasm in the Senate to his work on the Judiciary Committee. He played an important role in the committee's hearings on the nominations of Sandra Day O'Conner to the Supreme Court and Edwin Meese to be Attorney General of the United States. From 1981 to 1985, he was the chairman of the Subcommittee on Separation of Powers, where he focused on the crisis in the constitutional separation of powers precipitated by an era of judicial activism in the Federal courts. In 1985, Senator EAST was chosen by his colleagues on the committee to serve as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts. In that capacity, he worked hard on numerous legislative proposals to improve the efficiency of our Federal court system.
Mr. President, none would argue with the proposition that JOHN EAST was among the several most conservative Members of the Senate. Some would say that he was the Senate's most conservative Member. If so, he wore that badge proudly. He did not waiver from this strength of political conviction even when he knew that the votes he cast in the Senate could cost him the reelection that he would have sought but for the illness—hypothyroidism—that ultimately killed him. For JOHN EAST believed as Edmund Burke, the eminent 18th century British philosopher-statesman whom he quoted so often, did when he said:
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
Finally, Mr. President, those of us who attended JOHN EAST'S memorial service in North Carolina learned how much our late colleague loved studying his Bible. So I want to close my remarks this morning by quoting from John 11:25-26:
Jesus said, I am the resurrection and I am life. If a man has faith in me, even though he die, he shall come to life.
As the Washington Times concluded its moving July 1 editorial tribute to Senator JOHN EAST:
Those who knew the junior Senator from North Carolina and who knew of his battles and his sufferings in this world will have no fear for his condition in the next.
Mr. ARMSTRONG. Mr. President, the Senate of the United States is a poorer place without JOHN EAST. Many of us have lost a friend; all of us have lost a dedicated colleague.
There are not many like him: A citizen-candidate who showed that merit and courage can elevate to national prominence a man who was far from being a professional politician. On the contrary, JOHN EAST was a scholar, a thinker, a philosopher, a writer, an academician, a theorist, as well as an attorney.
He was, most of all, a teacher, and not just during his tenure as professor at East Carolina University. He taught here in Washington as well, both through his speaking in this Chamber and, what is always far more important, through his example. And like every outstanding teacher, he was always learning. He would always listen. He gave others their due. He understood disagreement and diversity.
But he also understood the difference between truth and error, between fact and falsehood; and he was not tolerant of the false or the phony. Indeed, it was his commitment to the truth that brought him to the Senate; for he understood that our country had been making some dangerous mistakes, and he was determined to help correct them.
He understood both the military danger of Communist regimes and the intellectual danger of Marxist ideology, and he was an able opponent of both.
He understood the folly of both statist economics and fiscal irresponsibility, twin roads to the dismal destination of national ruin; and he never failed in his commitment to completing America's economic recovery.
He understood that the greatness of a nation depends upon the character of its people, and that an ethical recovery was as essential in this land of ours as an economic one.
Technically, JOHN EAST was disabled, confined to a wheelchair by the polio contracted while a young man. But no one who worked with him could think of him as disabled. We saw only his abilities, in committee and in debate, in private counsel and in public discourse, and in the life of the mind, to which he devoted his adult life.
Many are more mobile than JOHN EAST was, but few are stronger. For his strength came from a rigor of thought and a clarity of will. It came from a sense of purpose that allowed him to overcome obstacles of all sorts, both physical and political. In that special strength, fortified by adversity, he was ever the young marine lieutenant so eager to serve his country.
And serve he did, in ways he could not have foreseen more than 30 years ago when he wore his country's uniform.
His fellow Senators will not soon forget his appearance in this Chamber: The way he showed a gainly grace in awkward circumstances, the way he managed a welcome smile in painful circumstances, the many ways he found to stand tall among us. Even as we join in his family's sorrow, we thank them for sharing him with us these last several years. And we join them in entrusting him to the care of a merciful God, whose gifts to him JOHN nobly developed, whose blessings he freely shared, and those children Senator EAST sought to protect.
Let us wish him peace, but let us continue his work.
While, of course, this is a moment when all of us feel a great sense of loss and it is a moment when we wish to extend to Mrs. East and to the family and to all who loved and admired JOHN our deepest sympathy, I think it should not be a moment when we fail to celebrate his life as well as to mourn his passing.
In the death of JOHN EAST the people of North Carolina have lost a distinguished public servant and the people of this country have lost an extraordinarily Senator, a man whose ideals and patriotism were an inspiration to all of us who had the privilege of serving with him and to many, many others who did not know him but who followed his career and who admired his work, character, intellect, and scholarship.
Mr. President, it is that thought which I will always remember about our friend JOHN EAST that he was in the highest and best sense a U.S. Senator, a man of broad vision who served the people of his State and spoke for their interests over and over again, but who saw beyond the borders of North Carolina to the whole country and whose patriotism, whose sense of purpose, calling, and duty were shown over and over again.
Mr. President, I shall always remember also that JOHN EAST was a fighter. Some might be surprised to hear me characterize him in that way because he was a man of gentle manner and disposition. He was not a loud talker. He was not a person who was pushy or who was putting himself forward but he cared deeply about the future of this country and over and over again carried forward the battle of ideas and did it with great distinction and with great fortitude and intellectual power.
Those of us who have been privileged to serve with him and know him will be forever grateful for what he brought to this body.
Mr. President, I do join with all Senators in extending sympathy and expressing my regret but also really in celebrating the great contribution which he has made to the life of this country and to the family of the Senate.
Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, JOHN EAST was a Senator who felt strongly about the great national issues of the day and he had the courage to take a stand on those issues and he took his stand on the basis of his convictions. Sometimes he almost stood alone in this Chamber. But his courage was undaunted.
He was liked by the pages. He was liked by his colleagues. He always took a moment to say hello to the pages, and I believe that that is a mark of humility which in turn is a mark of greatness when a very busy person takes time to spend with little people, our pages, and has a minute to give to them to inspire them and to make them feel that they, too, are being recognized for their services.
JOHN EAST and I had a talk one time about some of the difficulties in the lives of each that had to be overcome. Here was a man who had been an outstanding athlete, served as a U.S. marine, brought down by polio, not just in the prime of his life but at the beginning of the prime of his life, and he was still in that prime when he served here.
I know that it is impossible for one to put oneself into the person of another and truly understand the trials and the burdens and the heartaches that the other person carries.
So I cannot do that, but I can imagine what those trials and burdens may have been like.
JOHN EAST had great faith and he looked up, not down. We often see this in individuals who are not as fortunate as others. I have seen it when I have gone to Romney, WV, and visited the schools for the deaf and the blind, and as I have watched those little people, those young people, go about helping one other—a deaf student leading a blind student, sometimes a blind student leading a blind student.
The applause that a visitor receives in going to that school and meeting with those young people is really something that is inspiring, uplifting, and in a way, puzzling, because one wonders how those young people—most of whom probably have never been able to see the sunsets, the mountains, and the hills and the flowers, and all of the beauties of nature—how they can be so upbeat and so upward looking in their faith.
So one has to wonder and yet, perhaps, one does not have to wonder, because people like JOHN EAST have an inner faith
upon which to draw, that provides the strength and succor and comfort for the trials, and sometimes I think they see above the rest of us.
We, of course, always are sorry when we lose a Member here. We differ in our viewpoints and sometimes we become somewhat partisan in our debates, but underneath it all, there is a kind of spirit that bonds us together.
We all try to remember that we are only mortals, and that “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down. He fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not.”
So the time will come when each of us shall “join that innumerable caravan that moves to that mysterious realm,” and we carry a sorrow with us, meanwhile, that is perhaps unlike the sorrow of the immediate family, the closest loved ones, but there is still that feeling that underneath we are all to some extent brothers.
To his family, words cannot mean very much at a time like this. And yet, they do mean much.
Having lost one so near and dear to us within our own families, I know that we all know how much a few words of sympathy and remembrance do really mean to the sorrowing heart.
I would simply close these random thoughts with a few lines that I did not compose, but which are meaningful in moments like these.
- Let Fate do her worst, there are relics of joy,
- Brights dreams of the past, which she cannot destroy;
- Which come, in the night-time of sorrow and care,
- And bring back the features that joy used to wear.
- Long, long be my heart with such memories filled!
- Like the vase in which roses have once been distilled,—
- You may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will,
- But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.
Mr. TRIBLE. Mr. President, I rise to join my colleagues in paying our respects to our departed friend and colleague, JOHN EAST. We will miss his smile and his warm and gentle spirit, his concern for our well-being, but we will always cherish his presence in our life and the contribution he made to this great institution and to this country.
JOHN was a rare man. A scholar and a statesman, his life combined the theory and practice of politics in unparalleled fashion. JOHN EAST understood with depth and clarity the principle of the American policy. And he dedicated his public life to the realization of those principles.
He brought to this body a reflectiveness rarely found in modern politics, and the life of the Senate was enriched by his presence.
JOHN EAST's accomplishments came at great cost. He overcame polio and went on to win a degree in law and a doctorate in political science. He sought to make his mark in public life and won a seat in the U.S. Senate.
In this body, the Senate of the United States, JOHN never shrunk from controversy nor were his positions derived from the politics of the moment. Rather, in pursuit of his principles, JOHN EAST was resolute and steadfast.
We mourn his loss, Mr. President, but we shall never forget his friendship and his example and his lasting contribution to our lives.
Mr. MATSUNAGA. Mr. President, I too rise to speak to the memory of our late colleague, Senator JOHN EAST. While our party affiliation and political outlook differed, Senator EAST and I struck off a very pleasant personal friendship from the time he was elected to this body. For 2 years we were office neighbors in the Dirksen Building and a more gracious, friendly and helpful neighbor one could not hope to have than JOHN EAST. Our staffs also enjoyed each others’ company.
JOHN EAST represented North Carolina in this body with great distinction of both intellect and personal fortitude and his example of daily valor for all of us will long be remembered. While I fully realize that no word or act of any mortal can ease the inner pain over the loss of their beloved one, to his wife, Priscilla, and their daughters, Kathryn and Martha, I extend my heartfelt condolences and God's aloha from the people of Hawaii.
WEDNESDAY, July 23, 1986.
Mr. KASTEN. Mr. President, I rise today to honor the memory of Senator JOHN EAST. He was a friend, he was a leader, and he was a role model for many. He will truly be missed.
JOHN and I were both Members of the class of 1980. We came here to the Senate together as freshmen. I remember well those heady first days, and the great hopes we both had for turning this country around, and for making a difference here.
JOHN certainly met those goals—he made a real difference. He was a true intellectual and a real conservative leader. His thoughtful approach to crucial issues of the day was always valued. And he offered a well-reasoned, academic dimension that is often missing in Senate floor debate.
He was also a role model for many. The personal courage he demonstrated just by making it through each week of Senate session was an inspiration. And he never complained—he was always simply thankful for the opportunity to be here in the Senate and serve.
Our thoughts are with his family. We share in their great feelings of loss. No one can ever replace JOHN EAST. We were simply fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve alongside him.
THURSDAY, July 24, 1986.
Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, all of us in the Senate are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague, JOHN EAST. I, perhaps, had a special perspective on him and his work here in the Senate. I served for 2 years as the ranking member of JOHN'S Subcommittee on Separation of Powers when he first came to the Senate in 1981. It is from that perspective that I got to know him as a fine person.
JOHN EAST was a very determined individual. That determination give him the ability to overcome great personal adversity in his own life. But it also gave him a special sensitivity to the problems and the great potential of the handicapped.
Most importantly, JOHN EAST had a very personable side. Those who worked in and around the Judiciary Committee, regardless of party or philosophy, found him to always have an amiable warm welcome. He always said hello and he always had time to chat.
JOHN EAST had an extremely quick mind and a very quick wit. He was a skillful debator and relished political and philosophical analysis. While I never saw him in the classroom, he was reputed to have been one of the most popular professors on his college campus, and if one ever saw him thoroughly engrossed and engaged in a committee hearing process, one could well understand why.
JOHN EAST came to Washington, DC to pursue a political agenda he felt very deeply and strongly about. He was dogged in his determination to see that agenda through. He clearly succeeded in raising the visibility of the issues and the perspective
that he cared so much about. He will be remembered by those of us that worked with him for a very long time.
Mr. President, I want to take this opportunity to send my deepest regrets to JOHN EAST'S family and the people of North Carolina that he represented. His death is a loss to all of us.
TUESDAY, July 29, 1986.
Mr. DIXON. Mr. President, today, I join with my fellow Senators in expressing sorrow at the loss of our friend and colleague, Senator JOHN P. EAST. Although we sometimes disagreed on issues, those differences never diminished the degree of respect that I held for his intelligence and integrity.
Senator EAST was well acquainted with Illinois. He was born in our State capital, Springfield, and he earned his law degree from my alma mater, the University of Illinois.
I had the opportunity to get to know Senator EAST best from my service with him on the Armed Services Committee. I learned that Senator EAST was a man deeply committed to the security of our Nation. He was guided by his conscience, and was unswerving in his determination.
This determination went far beyond his political life. JOHN EAST was, as his colleagues from North Carolina has called him, “a profile in courage.” He was able to rise above his disability to pursue a distinguished academic and political career, in addition to raising a family.
The loss of Senator EAST has left a void in this Chamber. His friendliness, sincerity, and courage to stick to his conscience will be sorely missed.
Mr. President, my sincere condolences go out to his wife Priscilla, his two daughters, and other family members during their time of mourning. They should be comforted by the knowledge that JOHN EAST was a man dedicated to his God, his country, and his conscience.
WEDNESDAY, October 1, 1986.
Mr. SYMMS. Mr. President, the Nation recently mourned the passing of a great American, a true patriot, a loyal friend and a powerful inspiration to all of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate: Senator JOHN EAST.
While in the service of his country as a marine, Senator EAST contracted the polio that eventually confined him to a wheelchair. In spite of his afflictions and personal struggles with
health related problems, Senator EAST exemplified the full meaning of the motto he served under as a marine: Semper Fidelis—always faithful.
Mr. President, I gave a personal tribute to Senator EAST some time ago, but today I wish to enter into the Record an outstanding article that very well sums up the feelings of his closest friends. The article is appropriately entitled, “Senator JOHN EAST: Semper Fidelis.”
I ask unanimous consent that the article be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
(From the Conservative Digest, September 1986)
SENATOR JOHN EAST: SEMPER FIDELIS
(By Patrick B. McGuigan)
JOHN EAST grew up in what the media now call “a traditional family.” Born in Springfield, Illinois, he was the son of a state employee and was always interested in politics. He attended Earlham College, one of the best of our country's small schools, and played left tackle and was captain on the Quaker college's football team. This led to his first encounters with Priscilla Sherk, later his wife, who was an Earlham cheerleader. A serious scholar even as an undergraduate, EAST'S determination to enforce study hours earned him the affectionate nickname at Earlham: “Iron Chancellor of Bundy Hall.”
JOHN EAST was graduated from Earlham in 1953, and shortly thereafter JOHN and Priscilla, known to her friends as Sis, were married. American men had been dying in Korea, and the patriotic JOHN EAST met his obligations by joining the U.S. Marine Corps where he served for two years.
Only a few weeks after his discharge from the Marines, JOHN contracted polio. Doctors said the disease originated in the Camp Lejeune swimming pool, where JOHN had worked out regularly. For a time, EAST was critically ill. A year of therapy—including time at the Warm Springs, Georgia, facility where Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been treated—left him with residual paralysis in both legs and some permanent weakness in his right shoulder. Sis recalled that JOHN was philosophical when he learned that he would never walk again. She told People magazine, “He put his arm on my shoulder and said, ‘Things will be all right, Sis.’ And I knew that they would.”
JOHN EAST, succeeding despite his confinement to a wheelchair, inevitably became a model and a symbol of what it means to deal courageously with adversity. He told Betty Cuniberti of the Los Angeles Times: “I don't play up the (handicap). I spend 99.9 percent of my time with able-bodied people, and I think that's a contribution. . . . (I)f you get out and perform and work and create and do and succeed, you will do more. Those people do more for the cause than all the screamers and the yellers and the hollerers. When you're around somebody who's constantly playing up their disabilities and their ailments and their hurts and their pains, they're a darn bore.” JOHN was never boring.
Almost always reluctant to discuss his physical problems in political terms, East broke that rule only once as he fought to protect the right to life. He told
Cuniberti, “It's a little presumptuous, downright egotistical, to say ‘I am viable, I go it alone.’ The devil you do! You think you do, but you're very dependent on other people in this life and you are from the time of being an unborn child until you die.” He now spoke from his own experience: You're “at the peak of your physical capacity, struck down like that (he snapped his fingers), totally dependent on little nurses coming in that weigh half as much or a third as much as you do. All of a sudden, you're no longer viable. Now, if viability is the test of livability, of the right to live, should I have been just left to die?”
Soon after turning the corner in his battle with polio, JOHN EAST enrolled in law school at the University of Illinois, earning his LL.B. in 1959. After trying his hand at private practice, EAST decided he was more inclined to the life of the mind than that of the storefront lawyer. He studied political science at the University of Florida, earning his M.A. in 1962 and his Ph.D. in 1964.
JOHN EAST now started on the course that would ultimately place him in the national spotlight. He accepted a position in the department of political science at East Carolina University (E.C.U.) in Greenville, North Carolina. As in most institutions of higher education, the faculty was dominated by liberals. But JOHN was so persuasive and formidable in his arguments that he earned the respect of even his most liberal colleagues over the sixteen years which followed. Dr. Larry Hough of the East Carolina political-science faculty told the Greenville Daily Reflector: “JOHN and I were both political-philosophy specialists and our views differed, but I found in him a man who could discuss and argue his views very articulately and without malice. He was very popular with the students back in the radical days of the ’60s and ’70s. He always had full classrooms. And last year, I had him come talk to a legislative class and the room was overflowing, both with political-science students and many others. He was a wonderful lecturer.”
Among the close friends he earned in those years was John M. Howell, Chancellor of East Carolina University. Howell described Professor EAST as a “fascinating lecturer” with a pointed sense of humor. A moderate Democrat, Howell nevertheless made a campaign contribution to EAST when he ran for political office in the 1960s. JOHN EAST wrote him a thank-you note, saying: “With enemies like you, who needs friends?”
The skies were cloudy and overcast when the little commuter airplane on which I was a passenger touched down in Greenville, North Carolina. The flag at the airport was at halfstaff in honor of the town's most prominent citizen, JOHN EAST, the greatly loved former political science professor at East Carolina University who had gone to Washington to fight for the things most folks in Greenville believe in as a matter of course.
The woman at the airport car rental knew why I was there, and she couldn't help talking about it. “When I was a little girl, he ran for Congress and didn't make it. My family always liked him. He worked so hard for so long. Then, he won the Senate thing. I just can't believe it.”
Invariably, I did what I always do when I have a little spare time in a strange town. I went to the news room of the town newspaper, the Greenville Daily Reflector. I passed some time there with Stuart Savage, a long-time political reporter. Stuart had known EAST for many years, and shared my opinion of the scholarly statesman: “We loved him. I'm gonna miss him.”
JOHN EAST had also made a lasting impact on several generations of East Carolina University students. One of them, David Harrington, described Professor EAST as “the most intellectually stimulating professor I ever had.” Harrington, who had studied under EAST as both an undergraduate and a graduate student, told the Daily Reflector: “There were mornings when I would get
up not wanting to do what I had to do for the day. Then I'd remember that I could count on Dr. EAST to be in class in his wheelchair, totally enthusiastic and impeccably prepared for that day . . . as if it were a major lecture he was delivering, not just a routine class to teach . . . (EAST would) do this day after day and make . . . philosophers like Plato and Burke and Locke come alive so I never forgot them and what they believed. The way he conducted his classes . . . was so inspiring, not just for me, I know, but for hundreds of students, whether they agreed with his political views or not. He wasn't a pal to his students, but he always knew every one of them by name, even years after they'd been in his class, and was always interested in what they were doing.”
David Harrington continued: “I remember just a few years ago, I invited him to make a commencement talk at a school where I was then teaching in Washington, North Carolina. He agreed, invited me to ride with him in his car, made a superb talk, and even refused the honorarium the school offered him, suggesting we use it for what would most benefit the students. He always emphasized the value of the individual human life and spoke against fascism as much as against communism, because he saw in both the danger of putting the value of the state over the value of the individual.”
JOHN EAST's reputation grew, not only as a classroom teacher, but as a distinguished scholar with a deep understanding of the moral and philosophical roots of Western political institutions. The author of a major scholarly book on city government, EAST eventually produced a wide range of articles published in general-interest magazines and academic journals. He served on the editorial boards of Modern Age and the Political Science Reviewer, remaining active in the American Political Science Association, the Southern Political Science Association, and Phi Beta Kappa. He was until his death a contributing editor of Conservative Digest. His thought-provoking essays included such titles as “Conservatism And College Teaching,” “The Political Relevance Of St. Augustine,” “The American Conservative Movement Of The 1980s.” and “The Professor And His Identity Crisis.” His work was published in Modern Age, Universitas, Political Science Reviewer, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He won two Excellence In Teaching awards at East Carolina University. And every paragraph of JOHN EAST's writing and teaching was permeated with his understanding of the transcendent importance of the Judeo-Christian tradition to American institutions.
Amid this flurry of teaching and scholarly research, JOHN and Sis East raised two daughters, Kathryn and Martha. It says something special about this family that both eventually pursued careers as physical therapists for the physically handicapped.
The funeral was held at Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church, a beautiful church in the city's small downtown area. Suffering the loss of my friend, I went two hours early to sit and to pray.
The funeral attracted leaders from both political parties and from throughout the conservative movement. Barbara Bush represented her husband, the Vice President. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole, led a Washington delegation which included Republican Senators Strom Thurmond, Richard Lugar, Dan Quayle, and Alan Simpson, along with Democrat Senator Howell Heflin. They were joined by T. Kenneth Cribb, representing the Attorney General, and John Bolton, the Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legislative Affairs. The wives of a number of other Members of the Senate also attended, along with North Carolina Congressmen James Broyhill, Alex McMillan, Billy Hendon, and Howard Coble. Governor James Martin was there, and scattered throughout the church packed with some 800 people were friends from the leadership of
the conservative movement. These included Jerry Falwell (Liberty Federation), Richard Viguerie, Ron Godwin (Insight magazine), Howard Phillips (Conservative Caucus), and Mildred Webber (Heritage Foundation).
Pastor Malloy Owen conducted a short and dignified memorial service, beginning with Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me? My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth . . . .” The congregation joined in recital of the Apostle's Creed and singing of “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Pastor Owen closed his short eulogy with a powerful rendering of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, asking us: “Who will take up the torch of this brave man?”
It was JOHN EAST's power as a debater and thinker which had inevitably drawn him to direct political involvement. A Republican in an era when no one but Democrats secured elections in North Carolina, EAST tried for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966. Suffering defeat, he ran unsuccessfully for Secretary of State in 1968. But he emerged as a leader in the resurgent Republican Party of North Carolina. JOHN served as a national committeeman in the late 1960's, and as a delegate in 1968 and 1976 to the National Conventions of the Republican Party. At the 1976 Convention he helped craft the conservative G.O.P. platform on which underdog President Gerald Ford nearly recovered from the Watergate scandal before losing narrowly to Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.
EAST had by now become a key ally of conservative Senator Jesse Helms, who asked him in 1980 to challenge the moderately liberal Democrat incumbent Senator Robert Morgan. After securing the nomination, Dr. EAST insisted on an issues-oriented campaign against Morgan, criticizing the incumbent's support for the surrender of the American Canal at Panama, aid to Marxist insurgents in Nicaragua and the federal bailout of New York City. JOHN EAST also attacked Morgan's opposition to a strong national defense, including the Democrat's leadership in killing the B-1 bomber. In one of the most dramatic results of the pivotal 1980 election, EAST defeated Morgan by just 7,004 votes. Gracious in victory, he called Morgan “a great friend” of East Carolina University, and “a great public servant.”
In the Nation's capital, JOHN EAST was suddenly part of the Republican majority, unexpectedly in control of the United States Senate. Senator Strom Thurmond (R.-South Carolina), the new Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asked EAST to serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Separation of Powers, which he did for the next four years, moving on to serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts.
Lost now in the mists of cliché is the name of the journalistic wag who acidly designated EAST a “Helms on Wheels” in an effort to dismiss the junior Senator's personal contributions to the conservative renaissance occurring in the nation's capital. Jesse Helms responded to the nickname by saying, “I think that's an insult to him. He's smarter than I am. I appreciate the compliment.” JOHN EAST, whom Paul Weyrich once called the only authentic conservative intellectual in the U.S. Senate, only laughed.
Eventually, EAST earned what Betty Cuniberti of the Los Angeles Times called “the unofficial title of philosopher of the . . . New Right, a spokesman increasingly called upon for the conservative point of view . . . . ” Cuniberti described EAST in action: “With the self-bestowed carte blanche to rally long-dead philosophers to his side, EAST can be intimidating if somewhat esoteric. It's often not a fair game. He's sent too many players on the field. He knows that few Senators or witnesses at hearings dare to match wits with him.”
EAST quickly made his mark in the Senate. To the dismay of the Liberal Establishment in the nation's capital, he sponsored the Human Life bill of 1981-1982.
The hearings on that legislation were outstanding for the clear trust of the evidence EAST presented: That unborn children are human beings from the moment of conception.
In the Judiciary Committee, Senator EAST was a defender of the conservative “strict constructionist” judicial nominees of the Reagan Administration. When liberals on the Committee succeeded in scuttling the nomination of Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds to move up to the Number Three position in the Department of Justice, EAST aptly condemned what he called “cannibalism Washington style.”
JOHN EAST continued his scholarly activity while in the Senate. In 1981, he produced “The Case For Withdrawal Of Jurisdiction,” an examination of the meaning of Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution which was published in “A Blueprint For Judical Reform,” the book which sparked the modern judicial-reform movement. A few months later, EAST appeared at the 1982 Conference on Judicial Reform sponsored by the Free Congress Foundation.
Committed to a strong national defense, Senator EAST was also a supporter of American strength in this hemisphere, frequently criticizing House Democrats for stalling on military assistance to the Freedom Fighters in Nicaragua. One of his most courageous moments in the Senate came in 1982, when he joined Senator Helms in a week-long filibuster against a 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act, an extension which actually heightened coercive federal powers over the electoral process. He also opposed efforts to increase gasoline and some excise taxes. JOHN EAST was a conservative's conservative, aggressively defending the vision that the Founding Fathers of the American Republic had held—a vision sometimes betrayed even in a Senate controlled by his fellow Republicans.
As just one example, in 1985-1986, Senator EAST opposed the Inter-Circuit Panel supported by Chief Justice Warren Burger and a majority of the Judiciary Committee's Republicans. The original legislation would have created a new federal court with unlimited jurisdiction. Members of the Panel would have been picked by the present membership of the Supreme Court, assuring a liberal orientation to what would have been, in essence, a national court of appeals. Senator EAST prevailed on a key amendment designed to limit the new court's jurisdiction solely to conflicts between circuits rather than give it the unlimited jurisdiction envisioned by the Chief Justice and his supporters. Then Senator Dennis DeConcini (D.-Arizona) pushed through an East-influenced amendment removing selection of the Inter-Circuit Panel from the Supreme Court and giving it, instead, directly to the membership of the various circuit courts. Passage of these two amendments lessened the Chief Justice's enthusiasm for the constitutionally suspect proposal. JOHN EAST's actions on this legislation were the crucial step in forestalling passage of an unwise expansion of judicial power.
Despite this success, 1985 was not a good year for JOHN EAST. In February he underwent surgery to remove a benign obstruction of his urinary tract. As he was recovering from this setback, he complained of insomnia and fatigue. Tests at Bethesda Naval Hospital in April 1985 revealed EAST had hypothyroidism, a potentially debilitating illness in which the thyroid is disrupted, affecting the body's metabolism and energy levels. After struggling all summer to overcome the disabilities associated with this, JOHN announced in mid-September that he would not seek reelection in 1986. A month later, he was back in the hospital for tests resulting from discovery of a dangerously low white blood cell count.
Senator EAST would not reveal publicly his plans beyond November 1986. However, he had been asked by Chancellor John Howell to resume his post on
the political-science faculty at East Carolina University. In the meantime, as his strength returned in the spring of 1986, he worked feverishly to complete the editing of a book of his essays on conservative political thought. And JOHN EAST returned to his Senate duties, pressing for confirmation of the Reagan Administration's increasingly embattled judicial nominees.
Several of the Senator's admirers pushed for his elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, either to replace retiring liberal Judge Skelly Wright or, after mid-June, to replace Supreme Court nominee Antonin Scalia. But in a development his friends did not recognize at the time as ominous, in late June, Senator EAST asked that his name be removed from consideration for the post. Deeply depressed, he did not now feel himself worthy of the federal bench.
Hypothyroidism can cause a hormone deficiency leading to anemia, fatigue, insomnia, intellectual impairment, weight loss . . . and depression. “The Textbook Of Medicine” also indicates it has been known to cause “hallucinations, disorientation, paranoia and attempted suicide.” However, JOHN EAST had regularly received medication designed to counter the problems of this illness.
On Friday, June 27th, JOHN EAST completed work on the book galleys of his collected essays. He met with Supreme Court nominee Antonin Scalia. Then, commitments met, Senator EAST drove to Greenville with his aide, John Petree, arriving home about noon on Saturday. Sis was on vacation with her mother for the weekend, but Petree stayed with EAST until daughter Kathryn arrived for a visit. Kathryn left her father “in good spirits” about midnight that night. Petree returned to EAST's house on Sunday morning, June 29th. He found the front door ajar. The Senator was dead in his garage, an apparent suicíde, a victim of carbon-monoxide poisoning.
The death of John EAST was a terrible shock to millions of us. President Ronald Reagan declared him a “true patriot” who was “never flamboyant or interested in personal acclaim. . . . He was a quiet and effective legislator, who never wavered in his determination to keep our country strong. He cared about the people of North Carolina in a special way and was immensely proud of being chosen to represent them in Washington. Even in the face of adversity, JOHN EAST put his duty and his constituents ahead of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
Jesse Helms, who had the sad duty of carrying the tragic news to Sis East, was all but desolate. He said, “The Senate has lost a brilliant and effective voice for freedom, and those of us who were privileged to know him and serve with him have lost a dear friend and a constant source of inspiration.” Senator Jeremiah Denton (R.-Alabama), who is an authentic expert on the subject, said: “No man I know of lived with more years of courage and achievement against great odds.”
Senator EAST's term in office was marked by many enduring contributions to the nation and to the conservative movement. He steadfastly promoted the right to life for unborn children, and was an articulate defender of the Constitution's central concepts of federalism and separation of powers. JOHN EAST's gifts as a scholar and orator and warm human being made him one of a rare breed of statesman reminiscent of the Founding Fathers. The courage, fortitude, and sincerity that this great man brought to public life will be missed in the Senate, and always remembered by those of us he inspired.
Proceedings in the House
TUESDAY, July 15, 1986.
A message from the Senate, by Mr. Hallen, one of its clerks, announced that the Senate agreed to the following resolution:SENATE RESOLUTION 442
Resolved, That the Senate has heard with profound sorrow and deep regret the announcement of the death of the Honorable JOHN P. EAST, a Senator from the State of North Carolina.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate communicate these resolutions to the House of Representatives and transmit an enrolled copy thereof to the family of the deceased.
Resolved, That when the Senate recesses today, it recess as a further mark of respect to the memory of the deceased.
Mr. HEFNER. Mr. Speaker, I offer a privileged resolution (H. Res. 491) and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:HOUSE RESOLUTION 491
Resolved, That the House has heard with profound sorrow of the death of the Honorable JOHN P. EAST, a Senator from the State of North Carolina.
Resolved, That the Clerk communicate these resolutions to the Senate and transmit a copy thereof to the family of the deceased.
Resolved, That when the House adjourns today, it adjourn as a further mark of respect to the memory of the deceased Senator.
The resolution was agreed to.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
Mr. GAYDOS. Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
The motion was agreed to; accordingly (at 6 o'clock and 30 minutes p.m.), pursuant to House Resolution 491, the House adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, July 16, 1986, at 10 o'clock a.m. in memory of the late Honorable JOHN P. EAST.
TUESDAY, July 22, 1986.
Mr. COBEY. Mr. Speaker, on June 29 of this year, my State of North Carolina and the entire country lost a great patriot, Senator JOHN P. EAST.
Senator EAST was born in Illinois 55 years ago. He played football while studying at Earlham College and then joined the U.S. Marine Corps. At the age of 24, he contracted polio and lost the use of his legs.
But that handicap did not stop JOHN EAST. He went on to earn a law degree at the University of Illinois and a doctorate in political science from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Sis, also raised two lovely daughters.
As an active citizen and eventually as a Member of the U.S. Senate, JOHN EAST reminded us of something very important. He reminded us that, regardless of our handicaps, God has a purpose for every life.
Senator EAST stood up for principles that make America strong. He was well-known as a modern day philosopher. He often quoted great Western thinkers, such as Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas. One of his favorite philosophers offered an oft-mentioned quote that exemplifies the principles of JOHN EAST. That philosopher, Edmund Burke, stated that, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Those of us who knew JOHN EAST know that he did do something to preserve what is good about America. He spoke out for the right to life of innocent unborn children, for a strong America, and for a deterrent to the tyranny of communism. His articulate, well-thought-out arguments enhanced the debate in Congress.
As a lawyer, Senator EAST took a special interest in the judiciary of our country. He served on the Senate Judiciary Committee and was chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts. He believed strongly in judicial restraint. I recall him asking frequently, when pointing out the mistakes of the judiciary, “Who judges the judges?”
While I greatly respect JOHN EAST for his intellect and his great spirit, I will remember him most as someone who was always enjoyable to be around. He was a warm, caring person and he had a fine sense of humor.
JOHN EAST also loved God and sought God's wisdom. He read his Bible often, underlining key passages and making notes in the margin. Although we cannot understand fully why he left us, we can look back and be thankful we knew this special
man. His remarkable success, achieved despite many political and personal obstacles, serves as a lesson to all who knew him.
I shared many moments with JOHN EAST, and I learned a great deal from him. I and many others around the country will miss him very much.
Newspaper Tributes to John P. East
(From the Greenville (NC) News, June 30, 1986)
FROM CORPS TO SENATE, JOHN EAST WAS FIGHTER
People can share many of life's experiences with their friends and family members, but among the things they cannot share are the pain and frustration that go hand-in-wretched-hand with personal illness. Some people complain, some find it impossible to talk about their emotions—but in the end they must bear the pain and heartbreak alone.
No one knows the full extent of the suffering endured through the years by U.S. Senator JOHN EAST. That is what makes his suicide on Sunday difficult to understand. We were familiar with the confining effects of polio on his body. When EAST missed Senate session after Senate session last year, finally dropping any re-election plans, we knew that EAST's setback from a glandular condition affecting his thyroid in fact was a serious one. But we didn't know the pain.
We debated the political repercussions of his health problems—they were finite and therefore manageable by our limited human capacities—but we were unable to evaluate the repercussions on the man himself. We didn't know the pain.
And that is the way it always is and the way it always will be. It is difficult to define one's own breaking point, let alone someone else's. Hence suicide frequently comes as a shock to even the closest of family members and friends. They can never know the pain.
It is a tribute to the man himself, though a poor reflection on us, that we probably came to take the courage of JOHN EAST for granted. We were more familiar with his strengths than his weaknesses.
Here was a man who took his place among the few and the proud by joining the Marines early in life. A 24-year-old lieutenant in the Corps, nearing the end of his tour of duty, he contracted polio while swimming in the officers’ pool at Camp Lejeune. He would be confined to crutches or a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
EAST returned to college, finally earning a doctorate in political science. He served as a professor at East Carolina, greatly exciting students there with his vast intellect. He allowed neither his Republican affiliation nor his physical handicap to keep him from political candidacies—running unsuccessfully for public office against first U.S. Representative Walter B. Jones and later Secretary of State Thad Eure.
Just when it seemed EAST would never break the grip of defeat, in 1980 he stunned the political world by defeating U.S. Senator Robert Morgan in a dramatic contest. He took Washington by storm—his shining head and sharp facial features becoming commonplace on national news shows. His ceaseless battle against legal abortions made him a hero to millions of staunch conservatives around the nation.
He was a tough figure in the Senate, never backing down from conflict. EAST was unaccustomed to the role of quitter. The odds caught up to him in 1985, however, when a series of health problems forced him to bow out of a re-election campaign. Despite his frequent absences in the Senate and pressure
from state leaders to step down, EAST was committed to serving a full term.
His health had improved to the point that he recently expressed to friends second thoughts over his decision not to seek re-election. And then came his death. Because we know so little of the complexities of the human spirit, we are left wondering what obstacle could take away all hope from a man who had cleared so many obstacles before.
EAST was a fighter. He fought polio, and he fought hypothyroidism. He fought big government, and he fought liberal politicians. Perhaps he just decided to take off the gloves—we may never know.
What we do know is that JOHN EAST was truly, as Senator Jesse Helms remarked Sunday, a profile in courage. Not blessed with good health, he made the most of his marvelous gift of intellect. The sad news of the senator's death should give everyone, even his numerous political opponents, cause to review his own efforts at overcoming life's difficulties.
(From the Greenville (NC) Reflector, June 30, 1986)
FRIENDS SAY EAST EPITOMIZED DETERMINATION
(By Carol Tyer)
Senator JOHN EAST is remembered by his colleagues in political and academic arenas as a man who epitomized determination in the face of adversity and dedication to his convictions and to other people.
David Harrington, a Greenville resident who had EAST as a professor both in undergraduate and graduate school at East Carolina University, said, “He was the most intellectually stimulating professor I ever had.
“There were mornings when I would get up not wanting to do what I had to do for the day. Then I'd remember that I could count on Dr. EAST to be in class in his wheelchair, totally enthusiastic and impeccably prepared for that day's lecture as if it were a major lecture he was delivering, not just a routine class to teach.”
Harrington said EAST would “do this day after day and make theretofore remote-for-me philosophers like Plato and Burke and Locke come alive so I never forgot them and what they believed.
“The way he conducted his classes and his life was so inspiring, not just for me, I know, but for hundreds of students, whether they agreed with his political views or not,” Harrington said today.
“He wasn't a pal to his students, but he always knew every one of them by name, even years after they'd been in his classes, and was always interested in what they were doing.
“I remember just a few years ago, I invited him to make a commencement talk at a school where I was then teaching in Washington, NC. He agreed, invited me to ride with him in his car, made a superb talk, and even refused the honorarium the school offered him, suggesting we use it for what would most benefit the students,” Harrington said.
“He always emphasized the value of the individual human life and spoke against fascism as much as against Communism, because he saw in both the danger of putting the value of the state over the value of the individual” the former student said.
“He also emphasized the Judeo-Christian tradition as the basis for our country's value and saw danger for any society that would steer away from those values.”
Harrington said he was hurt by the manner of EAST's death, but he alluded to the Biblical story of Job which he said he has heard EAST tell more than once in answer to questions about why people experience suffering and seeming inequities. “Dr. EAST basically said there are some things that are not for humans to understand,” Harrington said, “and why his death would be this way is something that I may never understand. Regardless, I'll always be thankful for the contribution he's been to my life.”
Dr. Tinsley Yarbrough, an East Carolina University political science professor who joined the faculty three years after EAST did in 1964, said, “JOHN was a very fine friend of mine for a lot of years. I was in Washington Friday and talked to him on the phone. He invited me to lunch, but I couldn't make it. He seemed fine then, and this morning I had in the mail a note from him telling me what courses he'd be teaching second semester. He certainly seemed to be looking forward to coming.”
Only last week EAST sent a letter to ECU accepting an offer to rejoin the faculty after his term expired, Dr. John Howell, ECU chancellor said.
“This is a complete surprise to us,” Howell said. “We were talking in a very positive way about his return in January 1987. We deeply regret this won't be done now, but the university will always acknowledge the tremendous contribution Dr. EAST made to the academic reputation of ECU.”
Dr. Maurice Simon, chairman of the ECU Department of Political Science, said he spoke with EAST last week to obtain information about his return to the university. “He seemed in very good spirits,” Simon said. “We talked again about his return to ECU and he seemed very positive and enthusiastic. . . . It's a terrible tragedy.”
Dr. Larry Yough, like Yarbrough, a contemporary of Dr. EAST on the ECU political science faculty, said, “JOHN and I were both political philosphy specialists and our views differed, but I always found in him a man who could discuss and argue his views very articulately and without malice.
“He was very popular with the students back in the ’60s and ’70s. He always had full classrooms. And last year, I had him come back to a legislative class and the room was overflowing, both with political science students and many others. He was a wonderful lecturer.”
Janice Faulkner, who appeared with EAST on a debate show called Crossfire on local television for about two years, said she felt devastated.
“He was a good personal friend,” Ms. Faulkner said. “I had a great affection for him. We never agreed on anything politically. We were at absolute opposite ends of the spectrum. Politically, I couldn't have agreed with him, ever, but I feel a great sense of personal loss.”
The Reverend J. Malloy Owen, the Jarvis United Methodist Church minister where EAST attended services when he was in Greenville, will conduct his memorial service. Owen said he last saw EAST about four months ago, when he seemed “remarkably strong and in good spirits. I couldn't tell if anything was wrong.”
NC State Representative Ed Warren said, “I am shocked to hear of JOHN's death. He was a good citizen, a good man to work with, a top professor when he was at ECU. I knew him and his family for a long time. His wife and daughters were always supportive of the challenges he took part in. My heart goes out to them.”
Ed Walker, president of the Pitt-Greenville Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Greenville-Pitt County community is suffering from a great loss. JOHN
EAST was not only a good man, but very knowledgeable and contributive to the events that affected all our lives.”
Greenville Mayor Les Garner said he had “known JOHN EAST for about 20 years and I always admired what be stood for. He was a great person, not only in Greenville, but throughout the United States of America.”
State Representative Walter B. Jones Jr. said of EAST, “He was a dedicated public servant. His entire life was spent helping others and he's an inspiration to us all.”
U.S. Representative Jim Broyhill, the Republican party's nominee in this year's Senate election and the man likely to be appointed to complete EAST's term in the Senate, said, “I am shocked and grieved at the news of Senator JOHN EAST's death. He was my friend and colleague. He was a patriot and a leader of North Carolina and our country, a man of keen intellect and courageous stature. My heartfelt prayers go to his wife Sis and his daughters and their families.”
Dixie Green, long a Republican party leader in Pitt County, said, “I felt as close to JOHN as I do to my brothers.
“JOHN had a commitment to keep the treasure of America from slipping away. He was forever searching tirelessly for the best minds whose pronouncements, convictions and lifestyles stood the test of time—of immortality. The one who influenced JOHN most was Jesus Christ, his Lord and Saviour.
“You always knew where JOHN stood. He was a very tolerant individual who enjoyed the input of people with other opinions, but who stood firm on his own. “Because of the way he lived his life, we are the benefactors of his talent and his contributions. He did more in his short life than most people ever dream of.”
(From the Greenville (NC) Reflector, June 30, 1986)
It was a sorrowful, often tearful, community which learned Sunday of the death of United States Senator JOHN P. EAST.
Senator EAST was a strong man, one who overcame the crippling effects of polio as a young man to become a lawyer, a political science professor at East Carolina and a respected political observer.
He was a political conservative and a member of the Republican Party, and he was unshakable in his principles.
JOHN EAST sought office more than once on the Republican ticket during a time when election of a Democrat was virtually assured.
Then, in 1980, political success came in a dramatic way. As a candidate for the U.S. Senate against an incumbent Democrat, EAST was the winner. He defeated Senator Robert Morgan, who also had ECU ties. The next year JOHN EAST was sworn in for a six-year term as a United States senator. His Pitt County friends were certain he would represent our state with style and integrity, and indeed he did.
In recent years, however, he was less active in the Senate and finally, it was announced he was suffering from a thyroid condition which was treatable. Later he announced he would not seek a second Senate term but would serve out this full term. Following that he appeared to be more active in his Senate role.
The Senator showed us strength when lesser men might have failed. He put integrity, character and belief in democracy over all else. He could disagree
with his friends and still have their respect. The loss is especially sad to those of us in the community where he lived and worked for so many years.
(From the New York Times, June 30, 1986)
WARRIOR FOR THE NEW RIGHT
(By Peter T. Kilborn)
WASHINGTON, June 29.—Over his five years as North Carolina's junior Senator, JOHN P. EAST established himself as a persistent and an erudite warrior for the agenda of the New Right.
On most of these issues he was closely allied with Senator Helms. He sought to press Mr. Reagan further than the President was willing to go on some issues, but sided with him squarely on others, such as aid to Nicaraguan rebels.
In a statement from Santa Barbara, CA, Mr. Reagan said, “The people have lost a great Senator and Nancy and I have lost a valued and trusted friend.” He called Senator EAST a “true patriot” and a lawmaker “who never wavered in his belief in principle and in his determination to keep our country strong.”
Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, also a Republican, said: “He was a man admired by his colleagues for his patriotism, a keen intellect and dedication to duty and country,”
Mr. EAST initiated only one major legislative battle, the bill to declare that life begins at conception. The bill went nowhere, but Mr. Woodruff said that for Mr. EAST the debate was as important as the lawmaking.
Senator EAST had barely assumed his seat when he and Senator Helms demonstrated the strength of their commitment to conservative views when they cast the only Republican votes against approval of Caspar W. Weinberger as Secretary of Defense. They said that Mr. Weinberger was too liberal.
Mr. EAST's hypothyroidism last year and prostate gland surgery for removal of a benign obstruction required three or four hospital stays, his press secretary said.RESUMED ACTIVITIES IN FALL
But by late fall, Mr. Woodruff said, the Senator began to resume normal duties and had been attending to his Senate business regularly this year through last week.
He had also just received proofs of the book of essays he had written, “The American Conservative Movement: Its Philosophical Founders.” It is due to be published by the Henry Regnery Company in Chicago.
Senator EAST was often portrayed as the loyal shadow of the senior North Carolina Senator. But the men were not so close personally or in demeanor as they were philsophically, although they and their wives saw each other now and then socially. Clint Fuller, Senator Helm's administratives assistant, said: “There wasn't that much of an exchange, and the staffs didn't work together closely. I think EAST wanted to be independent, and Helms didn't want to be charged with being ‘Big Brother.’ ”
Senator EAST was a quieter, softer-spoken, more reflective man than many of his Senate colleagues, Mr. Woodruff said. For Senator EAST, good legislation had to be “rooted in philosophy,” according to Mr. Woodruff. “He enjoyed the debate more than the legislative process,” he said. On the other hand, when Senator EAST undertook his bill to define life as beginning with
conception, his opponents assailed him for summoning so many proponents of his own views to testify at committee hearings. The Senator extended the hearings to make room for other views.HE SWAM REGULARLY
Although the Senator drove an automobile with special controls, he was able to walk with the aid of crutches and swam regularly in the Senate swimming pool and at home.
Senator EAST was born in Springfield, IL, on May 5, 1931, and received a bachelor's degree from Earlham College in Indiana, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He spent two years as a Marine Corps lieutenant, and returned to academic life after his 1955 bout with polio. He received a law degree from the University of Illinois, a master's degree from the University of Florida and a doctorate in political science there in 1964.
He was defeated in a campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives in 1966 and in another for secretary of state in North Carolina in 1968. He leaves his wife, Priscilla, who is known as Sis, and two daughters, Kathryn and Martha.
(From the Henderson (NC) Dispatch, July 1, 1986)
SENATOR EAST WAS MAN OF COURAGE
It is not always for us to understand such tragedies, but North Carolinians, regardless of political preferences, have been shocked and distressed by the untimely death of U.S. Senator JOHN EAST, the Tar Heel State's junior solon in Congress.
He was found dead in the garage of his home in Greenville Sunday morning. Authorities have ruled that he died of carbon monoxide asphyxiation and that he took his own life at the age of 55.
It is a sad thing indeed for North Carolina and the nation, as well as for his family and associates.
He had been handicapped and confined to a wheelchair since he contracted polio at the age of 24 while serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Despite his disability, he went on to earn a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1959 and a Ph.D in political science at the University of Florida in 1964.
Senator EAST experienced additional severe health problems last year, resulting in his announcement that he would not seek re-election to a second six-year term in the Senate. Only in the past month it had been confirmed that, when he completed his term in Washington at the end of this year, he would resume his teaching career as a professor in political science at East Carolina University in Greenville.
As a professor at East Carolina, he was indeed, as he once described himself, “one of those rare creatures in academe, a conservative political science professor.”
It was as a conservative Republican that he won election to the U.S. Senate in 1980. He never wavered from his principles and earned respect from members of both parties in Congress for standing firm in his convictions.
Senator EAST overcame his crippling disability to become one of the most respected and distinguished members of the Senate. He was much admired for his valiant struggle against physical hardship.
He was a strong supporter of President Ronald Reagan and the Reagan administration and its policies. In a statement issued after learning of the Senator's death, President Reagan said, “Never flamboyant or interested in personal acclaim, he was a quiet and effective legislator, who never wavered in his belief in principle and in his determination to keep our country strong. Even in the face of adversity, JOHN EAST put his duty and his constituents ahead of his personal comfort, earning him the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
Whether or not one agreed with his politics, JOHN EAST must be admired as a man of courage. His achievements in academia and in the political arena would be a credit to one who did not have to face such physical challenges.
It seems likely that his physical problems were a factor in his decision Sunday morning. But we sometimes find that we do not know and do not understand an individual's internal stresses, the causes of despair, the tribulations of the heart or the personal conflicts that can become unbearable.
Let us therefore not be judgmental.
Senator JOHN EAST can be remembered with admiration for his record of service.
(From the Greenville (NC) Reflector, July 2, 1986)
HOWELL SAYS PEOPLE MISSED EAST'S HUMOR
(By Sue Hinson)
While many were speculating Tuesday about a replacement for the late Senator JOHN EAST, others preferred to remember the personal side of the man—a side East Carolina University Chancellor John Howell said he felt people sometimes missed.
Howell noted that a Washington magazine once described EAST as “the dreariest member of the Senate.” EAST was no such thing, Howell said.
“The people around here who knew EAST would never have used those words to describe him. The people up there obviously didn't know him,” Howell said.
EAST, a member of the ECU political science department from 1964 to 1980, was an intelligent man, a very well educated man, a man with a quick wit and ever-present sense of humor, Howell said in an interview today.
“If you were having a conversation with him, he would listen to you and then he would deal with your comments in a very thorough way which he did with a great deal of humor.”
One such instance involved a campaign contribution, Howell said.
“I sent him $10 when he was running against Walter B. Jones Sr. (to fill the unexpired House term of Herbert C. Bonner in 1966). EAST was a Republican and I was a Democrat so when I sent him the contribution I told him it was from the opposition. He sent a thank you note saying ‘with enemies like that who needs friends.’
“He could always come back with something like that that was light and funny.” Howell said.
Herb Carlton, an associate ECU professor of political science, remembered EAST in much the same way.
“When he decided to run for the Senate (in 1980), of course he had to take a leave of absence for the fall semester—he couldn't teach and campaign. So
along in early October, I went to see JOHN to verify the courses he wanted to teach since he was due back in the spring of 1981,” Carlton said.
“In the midst of the conversation, I asked JOHN ‘what are you going to do if you win?’ As quick as a wink and with the twinkle in his eye that everyone who knew him knew so well, he shot back ‘I'm gonna demand a recount.”’
EAST dealt with his students in much the same manner, Howell and Carlton said. “He was serious about the content of the course, but he could draw students in and get them involved in discussions about issues without ever letting the discussion reach an impasse,” Howell said.
A widely known conservative, EAST often switched courses with Carlton so their students could hear different viewpoints. Carlton remembered that EAST, when taking over his course, referred to himself as “the truth squad.”
“The students loved it.” Carlton said.
In addition to a sense of humor, EAST was also very knowledgeable. “By virtue of the fact that he was not out playing golf or doing some of the things people who had use of their legs did, he read a lot and kept up with what was going on,” Howell said. “He was a very well educated man who had a degree in law as well as a Ph.D. in political science.”
EAST put his knowledge to use in writing numerous academic articles including “Intellectual Decline on the American Campus,” “Political Relevance of St. Augustine” and “Political Thought on Willmore Kendall.”
(From the Greenville (NC) Reflector, July 2, 1986)
EAST EULOGIZED AS “MAN OF COURAGE”
(By Stuart Savage)
In the softly lit sanctuary of a Greenville church, U.S Senator JOHN EAST was eulogized Tuesday as a man of courage who was “willing to pay the price” as over 900 people, led by state and national government leaders, gathered for a memorial service.
EAST, 55, “knew it didn't take many people to influence a nation,” the Reverend Malloy Owen told mourners during the service. “It just took some people who knew what they believed, were thoroughly convinced that they were right, and were willing to pay the price of being different.
“JOHN EAST was willing to pay the price and he has,” Owen said.
Armed with this knowledge, Owen said, EAST became a leader. “And before too many years, people followed.”
EAST's accomplishments were “utterly amazing” in light of the handicap that might have led lesser men to “crawl in a corner and watch television,” Owen said.
“He was tolerant of others, always willing to listen . . . he loved his family and was loved by his family,” Owen said. “America is richer for having had him. Who will take up the torch of this brave man?”
Owen praised EAST for his campaign against abortion and noted that he was a man who read his Bible. At a Monday visit to the EAST home, Owen said he examined EAST's “marked up” Bible. “The markings indicated that he read his Bible,” Owen said. “He studied it. He knew it.
“America is blessed both by what he did in congress and by the positive way he influenced so many thousands of students during his teaching years,” Owens said.
“Although we are stunned and shocked by this tragedy, let us go from this place praising God for this man of strong conviction and . . . courage.”.
Earlier the congregation sang one stanza of “Onward Christian Soldiers” and recited the Lord's Prayer.
EAST's wife, Priscilla, sat on the front row with her mother, Virginia Sherk, and daughters Chip and Marty. After the service mourners filed past the EAST family to express condolences.
A Marine Corps color guard presented a folded American flag to Mrs. EAST at the end of the service.
Owens, in an interview, said he kept the ceremony brief and simple at the request of Mrs. EAST. The Senator's body was cremated.
There were few flowers in the church. The family had asked that charitable donations be made in lieu of flowers.
But one arrangement with red, white and blue ribbon had a card that read from: “The President and Mrs. Reagan.”
Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole as President Reagan's representative and Mrs. George Bush, wife of the vice president, headed the delegation of Washington officials that included at least seven U.S. Senators and the wives of others who attended the 2 p.m. service.
Governor and Mrs. Jim Martin and Lieutenant Governor Bob Jordan led a delegation of state officials.
But most of those who attended the service were simply local friends of EAST and his family.
EAST, an Illinois native and former Marine Corps officer, contracted polio in 1955 and had used crutches or a wheelchair since.
Polio failed to stop him from earning a law degree and practicing law for a year in Florida, before earning a master's degree and doctorate in political science and teaching at East Carolina University for 16 years before winning election to the Senate in 1980.
But last year other health problems began to plague the Senator—a urinary tract obstruction and infection and a hypothyroid condition. Those ailments were cited by EAST when he announced in September that he would not seek re-election to the Senate in 1986.
A police department supervisor Tuesday confirmed that a handwritten note to his family, found near EAST's body in the garage of his home, mentioned his health problems.
Senator Jesse Helms, EAST's political mentor, along with Governor Martin and their wives, sat on the front row across the aisle of the church from EAST's family.
Other Senators who attended the ceremony were Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, R-KS., Dan Quayle, R-IN., Howell Heflin, D-AL., Richard G. Lugar, R-IN., Alan Simpson, R-WY., and Strom Thurmond, R-SC.
Senate wives who attended included Mrs. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Mrs. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Mrs. Pete Wilson of California, Mrs. Steven D. Symms of Idaho and Mrs. Paul Laxalt of Nevada.
Several members of the North Carolina congressional delegation—including Representative Jim Broyhill who is expected to be appointed to replace EAST in the Senate—were on hand, as were representatives of Martin's cabinet and members of the General Assembly.
State representatives Ed Warren and Walter Jones Jr. attended as official representatives of the House. State Senators Bob Martin and Tom Taft were also present, as was Senator J.J. “Monk” Harrington of Bertie County.
Nationally known conservative leaders who attended included television evangelist Jerry Falwell, fund-raiser Richard Viguerie and Conservative Caucus leader Howard Phillips.
Falwell, in an interview, suggested that a possible missed diagnosis of EAST's health problems may have contributed indirectly to his death.
Falwell said that during a dinner he and his wife had with the EASTS earlier this year, “the Senator told me that a medical misdiagnosis caused him a great deal of personal suffering. It appeared that that—and other pressure points in his life—had given him some depression which led to the tragedy.”
But Falwell declined to give any details. “I don't think it would be proper for me to discuss what we talked about,” he said.
Thomas F. Ellis, a Raleigh lawyer who engineered EAST's 1980 upset of Democratic Senator Robert Morgan, said he could find no explanation for EAST's suicide. “Nobody knows what is in the human mind,” he said.
Ellis suggested that Martin should name former U.S. ambassador to Romania David Funderburk to replace EAST. Funderburk was defeated by Broyhill in the May Republican primary.
But Ellis said there was “a perfectly logical argument” for appointing Broyhill.
Patrick B. McGuigan, director of the judicial reform project for the Institute for Government and Politics in Washington, said EAST's term in office “was marked by many enduring contributions to the nation and to the conservative movement (and EAST's) gifts as a scholar and orator made him one of a rare breed of statesman reminiscent of the Founding Fathers.
“The courage, fortitude and sincerity that JOHN EAST brought to public life will be missed in the Senate long-remembered by his many admirers.
“I am saddened by his death,” McGuigan said, “but I will remember him for his life.”
(From Roll Call Newspaper, July 3, 1986)
AN INTELLECTUAL VOICE OF CONSERVATISM IS STILLED
(By Robert W. Merry)
During his nearly six years as a U.S. Senator, North Carolina's JOHN EAST gained a measure of appreciation from official Washington for what he was. Confined to a wheelchair since early adulthood, he was a man of courage who overwhelmed his handicap in pursuit of his considerable ambitions. He was a man of intellectual force who seemed warm and compassionate personally, cold and austere politically.
But Washington perhaps never fully appreciated what JOHN EAST represented in political or intellectual terms. Probably no one in the Senate, or in national politics for that matter, so clearly served as exponent of the traditional brand of American conservatism nurtured through the postwar liberal era in the pages of William F. Buckley's National Review and a handful of scholary journals.
Springing from the thinking of Edmund Burke, this conservatism was preoccupied with fundamental questions about the nature of man, about the pursuit of virtue within the framework of a free society, about the essense of Western culture. These aren't normal preoccupations in American politics, a remarkably
nonideological brand by modern standards, and there's little wonder that JOHN EAST was far more effective as a teacher than as a politican.
His efforts in both fields ended abruptly last weekend when Senator EAST asphyxiated himself in his Greenville N.C. garage. Already he had decided to retire from the Senate because of health reasons, but he had planned to resume his teaching career as a political science professor at East Carolina University.INTELLECTUAL STIMULATOR
That career gained JOHN EAST a measure of respect over the years. “He was a fabulous professor . . . a real force,” recalls John Hyde, now an official of the University of North Carolina's business school, who took two courses from EAST as an undergraduate in the late 1960's. “He made you think, he made you read, and he really challenged your views.” Hyde recalls EAST as that rare personage on college campuses, the kind who could draw students with the mere promise of intellectual stimulation.
But as a politican he was something of a curio. He harnessed his career to the political patronage of North Carolina's Senator Jesse Helms, thereby associating himself with the kind of ideological robotics that Senator Helms’ Congressional Club has come to symbolize. But Senator EAST wasn't as rigid as his reputation would indicate.
A good example was the abortion issue, with which he became associated because of his efforts to undo the arguments of fetus “viability” that served as the foundation for the Supreme Court's “pro-choice” Roe vs. Wade decision. Though thoroughly identified as an antiabortion politician, he didn't pass the most ardent antiabortionists’ litmus test; he didn't shrink from states allowing abortions in cases of rape or incest or when a team of doctors concluded that pregnancy could harm the health of the mother.
In other words, he took a more complicated view of the issue than many of the most vociferous combatants on both sides of it, and that in turn seemed to stem from his particular brand of conservatism and its concentration on values and their order of priority. “The act of rape is such a vile, contemptible, repugnant action,” he once told the Los Angeles Times, “that to require a woman to carry the fruit of a rape—I couldn't in good conscience require her to do it.”CONSERVATIVE TENSION
The complexities in JOHN EAST's thinking stemmed in large measure from a natural tension within conservative thinking, a tension that EAST, along with other conservatives, often sought to deemphasize. In an essay entitled “The Conservative Mission,” he once described two strains in the conservative outlook—the libertarian and the traditionalist.
“Libertarianism was essential in offering the framework of freedom, while traditionalism was indispensable to remind us that within the free society we must strive towards the achievement of moral and ethical ends,” he wrote, adding the public-policy goal is “the free man in pursuit of virtue.”
These are hallowed ideals, pondered over the centuries of Western culture by some of the civilization's great minds. During those postwar years when conservatives considered themselves in the political wilderness, such thoughts found constant expression in National Review and Modern Age, a conservative journal for which Senator EAST frequently wrote. They are an important intellectual underpinning of American conservatism.
But they aren't closely related to the recent rise of conservative politics fostered by Ronald Reagan and represented by the freshman class of Republicans now facing reelection. That political development stems, more than from anything else, from the GOP's ability finally to speak with credibility the language of economic growth. And the tension between the libertarian strain of conservatism and the traditionalist strain is one that Senator EAST'S party will be grappling with for a long time to come. It threatens to get very bitter and divisive as the party struggles with the social issues that were so important to the Senator from North Carolina.
But as the drama unfolds, the spirit of JOHN EAST will linger over it. He should be remembered as a man of intellect and courage who espoused a controversial outlook with force and humor.
And inevitably he will be remembered as something of a tragic figure. In discussing abortion during his interviews with the Los Angeles Times, he expressed his views eloquently: “To take life for no other reason than some idea of convenience and wantonness—back to theory, if you look upon life . . . as fundamental and precious, and I do, then you don't take it strictly for the purposes of convenience and wantonness.”
Tragedy is revealed in such expressions from a man who later takes his own life, a man of substance, force and intellect who struggled—unsuccessfully—with the forces of the universe.
(From the Greenville (NC) Times, July 9-22, 1986)
SENATOR JOHN EAST
(By Donald Rutledge)
The American flag on the campus of East Carolina University hangs solemnly at half-mast in tribute to Senator JOHN P. EAST, who died at his home in Greenville early Sunday morning, the 29th day of June. He leaves a wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Martha “Marty” and Kathryn “Chip.” A memorial service was held on Tuesday, July 1, at 2 pm at Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church in Greenville where Senator EAST had worshipped. The Reverend J. Malloy Owens led the service. Governor Jim Martin has declared that all American flags should remain at half-mast for an indefinite period of time.
On the eve of this country's birthday celebration and the unveiling of the 100 year old renovated Lady Liberty, Americans mourned the loss of a man who dearly understood what fighting battles for independence and freedom are all about. The 55-year old EAST had been waging political battles on Capitol Hill against liberalism and what he called a weakened America while confined to a wheelchair with polio, a restriction he had been fighting since he contracted the disease in a Camp Lejeune swimming pool in 1955 at the age of 24, just one year before the polio vaccine was widely available. In the face of the news that he'd never walk again, JOHN EAST remained confident and calm, as his wife Patricia “Sis” East recalled: “He put his arms on my shoulder and said ‘Things will be all right, Sis,’ ” she said, “And I knew that they would.”
On May 5, 1931 in Springfield, Illinois, Laurence and Virginia East had a baby boy. They named him JOHN PORTER EAST. The East's both college educated with middle class backgrounds, raised their son in several Illinois towns,
the most notable being Eureka, where JOHN'S father was schools superintendent and where President Reagan went to college.
JOHN EAST grew up with conservative ideals which were attributed in part to his upbringing and to his midwestern education. The East family was at one time Quaker, and had once lived in the Asheboro area before moving north to Michigan and Indiana around the time of the Civil War. EAST had speculated that perhaps the move was prompted by the family's disapproval of slavery.
EAST'S conservative beliefs took firm root when he went to Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana in 1949. It was there at the small Quaker liberal arts school that EAST was influenced by a number of conservative political science professors, including a former State Department official in Theodore Roosevelt's administration. He was also deeply affected by reading William F. Buckley's book, “God and Man at Yale.”
It was in his freshman year at Earlham that EAST, a tackle on the football squad, met Sis, who was a cheerleader. They would be married after EAST graduated, which he did in 1953 with a B.A. in political science with departmental honors, graduating 5th in his class of 125. He was also a star on the debating team that won the national championship, and later received Phi Beta Kappa honors.
EAST always set high standards for himself and for others. While at Earlham College, he was a dormitory president, prowling the halls every evening making sure that students were hitting the books during study hours. That earned him the nickname of “the iron chancellor of Bundy Hall,” according to college friend Conrad Joyner. Still the guys found the time to go for a Coney Island hot dog and a bottle of beer several nights a week to relieve the pressure of school. One summer, EAST and Joyner worked together in Puerto Rico, helping to build a new school as part of a college-sponsored program similar to the Peace Corps.
After graduation, marriage to Sis, and a tour of the Marine Corps, EAST decided to become a lawyer. He studied law at the University of Illinois Law School, graduating in 1959, and practiced law for a year in Naples, Florida, deciding that he'd rather teach. So back to school he went, acquiring a Master's and Ph.D. degrees in political science at the University of Florida. For his doctoral dissertation, EAST wrote a book published by the University of North Carolina Press in 1965 titled, Council-Manager Government: The Political Thought of Its Founder, Richard S. Childs. This book is considered by his colleagues to be the definitive work on the subject. Dr. Thomas Eamon, associate professor at East Carolina University who worked with EAST in the political science department called it “one of the most comprehensive works on the city council-city management” form of government.
In 1964, EAST came to what was then East Carolina College to begin teaching political science—a career which would last 16 years, until his Senate seat election in 1980. He came with “good credentials and very good recommendations,” according to Chancellor John M. Howell, then chairman and founder of the political science department and the man who hired EAST.
While a professor at East Carolina University, EAST specialized in political theory, from the ancient philosophers to modern thinkers. His favorite thinkers were Plato, Cicero, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Edmund Burke. He found common in their ideas “the acknowledgement that man is not self-created or self-produced. He is, in short, creature—not creator.” EAST'S favorite 20th century American political figure was the late Sen. Robert A. Taft, R-Ohio, in whom he found the embodiment of Midwestern Republican Conservatism. “I find in Taft a bright mind who appreciates the central problems of our time—utopianism and collectivism.” Taft, he said, showed
“that you can be reflective and generate a degree of humaneness in the political system by lessening government control and regulation.”
EAST's conservative ideology is a bit of a rarity on today's campuses and prompted him to remark in his 1980 campaign that he'd always been something of a lonely figure, being a rather conservative professor in a liberal academic world. But he was very well liked. “He was a very private person, yet at the same time, a very friendly and warm person. He was not a loner,” said Dr. Eamon. He was accessible to the students and was often seen between classes talking to a student about some idea.
In the classroom, however, EAST's true genius for debating issues came to the forefront. According to Chancellor Howell, “he was a keen debator; his students had to be careful in bringing up issues with him or they might get whipped (in the debating process),” adding that he was a “very popular lecturer. He had a very good mind, a very good education, and a very keen wit.” Dr. Eamon noted that “as a well informed, intelligent individual, he understood the other side (of an issue) . . . and this, perhaps more than anything else, made him an effective debator.” EAST's political persuasions were well known among his colleagues and students, and instead of downplaying this, he used it to stimulate lively debate. Provocative in his methods, he might outline the liberal and conservative viewpoints, and sometimes used this Socratic method, a difficult but effective tool. “He wanted students to think,” says Dr. Eamon, and “he had high standards—not unreasonable—but high.”
EAST's political career began in 1966 while he was a political science professor. He ran for Congress and lost to 1st District Congressman Walter B. Jones, gaining 39.7 percent of the vote in a respectable first showing. In 1968 he challenged Thad Eure for North Carolina Secretary of State, winning 44.6 percent of the vote in a losing compaign, proving to disbelievers that he would be taken seriously. Finally in July, 1979, Thomas F. Ellis, then Chairman of the Congressional Club, a conservative group founded by Jesse Helms, recruited EAST to run for Senate. As a Republican national committee-man in 1979, EAST had worked closely with Ellis to shape a conservative platform.
In the 1980 Senate Campaign, EAST narrowly defeated Senator Robert B. Morgan, D-NC, by about 7,000 votes in one of the most sensational Senate contests in recent history. A key issue in the campaign was the vote to release the Panama Canal from U.S. ownership. Senator Morgan had voted in favor of the treaty which would give up the canal, and EAST had used this fact as a major campaign weapon, saying that “it cut like a hot knife through butter.” EAST was sworn in as North Carolina Senator on Monday January 5, 1981 in Washington, D.C. with his wife Sis and daughters Marty and Chip looking on.
Senator JOHN EAST was one of those rare leaders who took a stand on issues in keeping with his principles and philosophy, never straying from that line. This often made him a controversial and unpopular figure who strongly aired his views to Congress. EAST took an unpopular view in regard to the creation of a new national holiday in honor of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. He felt that instead of a paid legal holiday, it ought to become a commemorative day honoring all past civil rights actions and activists at no undue expense to the federal government. He suggested that it be called a National Civil Rights Day. EAST also opposed all Congressional pay increases because, he said, “in my view Congress has a long way to go before it earns an increase in pay.” In a similar vein, EAST returned to the United States Treasury $140,000 in taxpayer funds in 1982. This amount represented a 14% savings, which he believed would have enormous value if all federal agencies made similar savings.
During his term in the Senate, JOHN EAST served as Chairman of the Separation of Powers Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, formerly chaired by Senator Samuel J. Ervin, Jr., D-NC, insisting that it become a forum for debating ideas and issues. He also served on the labor and human resources, energy and judiciary committees, including the Committee on Armed Services. In whatever function he served, Senator EAST constantly brought to it his thirst for conducting what he called “full, civil discussions of the issues.” Of course, EAST's expertise in the debate and his “flair for the theatrical,” as Dr. Eamon described it, make him one of the most fierce debators in the Senate. Never conceding an inch, and forcefully challenging every liberal or weak statement, Senator EAST argued with conviction, using his sharp wit and agile mind in an effort to bring educated analysis of the important issues of today to the center.
As a political commentator, EAST served on the editorial boards of Political Science Review and Modern Age, both scholarly journals, His incisive analyses of the nation's political problems were often reprinted in the Congressional Record. Aside from his writings, Senator EAST was a very good and much sought after speaker, commanding as much as $2,250 for speeches to conservative groups.
The following are a series of thoughts by the late JOHN EAST on things which he felt very strongly about, aside from the major issues in the political arena.
On polio: “I have the same physical problem Franklin Roosevelt had, and obviously he managed to accomplish a great deal (politically) in spite of it.”
On the handicapped: “I have always felt that the best way I can be of service to the handicapped, aside from supporting those legitimate concerns and interests they have, is to try to show that a handicapped person can be creative and productive and go out and compete and, to some degree, succeed in the world of the able-bodied.”
On his 1980 Senate history: “It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” “It's a boyhood dream come true.”
On the Senate Judiciary Committee: “In a way it is an extension of the idea of teaching or learning or a public forum. But I submit that is a substantial part of what the legislation process is about, or ought to be. If you are going to set national policy, you need a forum for airing ideas, discussing, and debating.”
On politics today in general: “A weakness or modern political thought is that anyone who went before you didn't know anything and that only people today know anything about anything political and that is a very grave mistake.”
JOHN EAST was due to return home to Greenville and to East Carolina University this fall in a position created for him by the political science department. Dr. Maurice D. Simon, the Chairman of the political science department at ECU said that everyone “was very enthusiastic about his (planned) return to the faculty. He was a political scientist who taught very effectively for many years with the students. It would have been a rare and special opportunity to have Senator EAST return to the political science department staff.”
The University and the community would have benefitted greatly by his active presence, and he will be dearly missed. EAST's courage to face the challenges of life—to conduct politics in strict accordance with his principles and belief, and to sustain an optimism for life and for this country—was uncommon. So as we raise our spirits in celebration of our nation's 210th year of independence, let us also raise our consciousness in remembering a man who gave his service to the public by educating our nation's leaders and ourselves
about the important concerns of today. Let us think of JOHN EAST the husband and father, as we send our hearts out to his family in sympathy and in recognition of a good man.
(From Insight, July 21, 1986)
THE MAN WHO QUOTED PLATO, BURKE
(By Myron Struck and Sean Piccoli, with George Archibald)
The suicide of JOHN PORTER EAST, a North Carolina Republican, took from the Senate one of its strongest conservative voices—a politician whose 1980 election helped President Ronald Reagan's party gain control of the Senate.
In his 5½ years in the Senate, EAST appeared to be an ideological twin of his senior, Senator Jesse Helms. Helms had been political mentor to the former professor of political science at East Carolina University in Greenville.
It was Helms who asked him to run for the Senate, and with the help of Helm's National Congressional Club—which paid for an aggressive television advertising campaign—EAST won by slightly more than 10,000 votes out of 1.8 million cast.
He espoused a conservative view punctuated regularly with quotations from Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas and Edmund Burke. His stand on issues—ranging from the reinstatement of school prayer to support for a ban on abortion—brought praise from Reagan, who called him, after his death, a “true patriot.”
Citing health problems, the 55-year-old senator announced Sept. 17 that he would retire rather than seek reelection this year. The effects of polio in his youth left him confined to a wheelchair for 31 years, earning him a Capitol Hill nickname of “Helms on Wheels,” which he regarded as clever and complimentary.
But he had been especially troubled over the past year by an acute case of hyperthyroidism, an illness that hospitalized him several times and forced him to miss a number of major votes.
Before his thyroid problems, the senator registered one of the better attendance records on Capitol Hill. He backed the conservative coalition there to the hilt. He was one of the most strident party supporters and, except for 1983, backed Reagan at least three-fourths of the time.
Often, in concert with Helms, he called for hard-line conservative positions. He and Helms voted against the confirmation of Caspar W. Weinberger as defense secretary, for example, on the grounds that the nominee was not enough of a hawk. He and Helms were also two of only three senators to oppose Margaret M. Heckler's confirmation as secretary of health and human services. Asked by a New York Times reporter in 1983 if any disagreements had ever arisen between him and Helms, EAST said, “I'm not aware of any.”
EAST led the fight to return prayer to public schools, and he scheduled hearings on an antiabortion bill which would declare that a fetus becomes a human being at the moment of conception. At first he even refused to invite prochoice witnesses, though he later relented.
EAST and Helms often teamed against legislation they opposed. They led a week-long filibuster in 1982 against an ultimately successful 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act.
More recently, when the Senate voted to condemn the regime of Ferdinand Marcos for widespread election fraud in the Philippines, EAST and Helms joined the nine-member minority of dissenters.
EAST was a staunch supporter of Reagan's policies in Nicaragua. He castigated House Democrats for suspending military and monetary aid to the rebel forces fighting the Sandinista regime and lamented what he regarded as public indifference to Central America. “We're going to lose Central America, as we lost South Vietnam,” he once said. “I hate to say it, but the average American doesn't know the difference between a Contra and a caterpillar, or between a Sandinista and a sardine.”
He did not serve long enough to rise high on the seniority totem pole in the Senate. In 1981, he was named chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on separation of powers and most recently served as chairman of the Courts Subcommittee. He also served on the Armed Services Committee.
In a statement from his California ranch, Reagan said EAST was “never flamboyant or interested in personal acclaim. He was a quiet and effective legislator, who never wavered in his belief in principle and in his determination to keep our country strong. He cared about the people of North Carolina in a special way and was immensely proud of being chosen to represent them in Washington. Even in the face of adversity, JOHN EAST put his duty and his constituents ahead of his personal comfort, earning him the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
EAST's church, Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church, was packed for a memorial service. A Washington delegation led by Barbara Bush, wife of the vice president, and Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole flew down in an Army plane for the tribute. The delegation included Republican Senators Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, and Democrat Senator Howell Thomas Heflin of Alabama.
Some of the talk before and after the service centered on whom Republican Governor James G. Martin would name to finish EAST's term. His selection: Representative James Thomas Broyhill, the Republican nominee for the seat EAST would have vacated after the November election.
News of EAST's death left his political mentor “in a state of shock,” according to Helm's wife, Dorothy. In a statement, Helms said the loss of EAST was “a tragedy of monumental proportions. The Senate has lost a brilliant and effective voice for freedom, and those of us who were privileged to know him and serve with him have lost a dear friend and a constant source of inspiration.
(From the News and Observer (NC), July 23, 1986)
SENATORS PRAISE EAST AS MAN OF COURAGE, BRILLIANCE
(By Bill Krueger)
WASHINGTON.—Senator JOHN P. EAST, who committed suicide at his Greenville home last month, was remembered Tuesday in the U.S. Senate as a courageous man with strong convictions.
With members of EAST'S family looking on from the gallcry, more than a dozen senators paid tribute to the late North Carolina senator.
“He was a profile in modern courage,” said Senator John W. Warner, R-Va. “JOHN EAST was an extraordinary man.”
Warner and others praised EAST for achieving success despite having to use a wheelchair because of the polio he contracted about 30 years ago.
“I think he set an example for disabled Americans,” said Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. “There is no question that North Carolina sent a brilliant public servant to the Senate when they sent us JOHN EAST.”
The Senate set aside more than two hours Tuesday morning to offer eulogies to EAST, a political science professor at East Carolina University before being elected to the Senate in 1980.
Most of those speaking were, like EAST, Republicans. The Senate chamber was virtually empty as lawmakers spoke.
Many senators spoke of EAST'S commitment to conservative causes, his intellect and his compassion.
“JOHN EAST never pussyfooted around,” said Senator J. James Exxon, D-Nebraska. “You knew exactly where he stood and we all respected him for that.
Senator Jesse A. Helms, R-N.C., whose political organization helped EAST win election to the Senate, kept his remarks brief. He noted that he had given a lengthy tribute to EAST when former Republican James T. Broyhill, R-N.C., was sworn in to EAST'S seat last week.
EAST had announced last year that he would not seek re-election. Broyhill, who had been chosen as the Republican nominee for EAST's seat before EAST'S death, is facing Democratic nominee Terry Sanford in the general election.
“No senator ever had a finer colleague than JOHN EAST,” Helms said. “I've never known a man with more compassion than Senator EAST.”
Helms also spoke of EAST'S sense of humor, relating an incident when a press account described EAST as balding. “I'm not balding,” Helms quoted EAST as saying. “I'm bald. Helms is balding.”
Broyhill recalled the first time he met EAST, in 1965 when East was running for the 1st Congressional District seat.
“I was immediately impressed with JOHN's keen intellect, his firm convictions, and his devotion to his country.” Broyhill said “Those first impressions held true throughout my friendship and professioal association with him. He was consistent in his attitudes and beliefs.”
Senator Barry M. Goldwater, R-Ariz., said: “He had a brilliant brain. He was a very, very fine, decent gentleman.”
Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, R-Kan., said, “Despite his strongly held views, there was no one who didn't respect him.”
Senator Howell T. Heflin, D-Ala, described EAST as “a gentleman of high integrity. He labored throughout his life to benefit the people of this nation.”
Senator Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, said: “One word comes to mind to describe JOHN EAST. That is courage.”
Senator William S. Cohen. R-Maine, said “He was a good and noble man, and I think his life has enriched all of us.”
(From the East Carolinian)
ECU MOURNS LOSS OF SENATOR EAST
Even though our country is based on different political views, we all share one thing in common—the grief that follows when someone dies.
John EAST's sudden death was not only a shock to those close to him, but to those he served during his capacity as a politician and scholar.
North Carolina's junior senator kept his ideas straight. He was articulate, enthusiastic and fair.
ECU will suffer from the former professor's death as well. EAST was to join the Department of Political Science in January and share his wisdom of the democratic process with students first hand.
For the near-20 years EAST was at ECU, he commanded—and got—respect from his students. He was a perfect role-model to all ECU faculty and alumni.
As a teacher, he remained dignified and knowledgeable throughout his teaching career. His wit and eagerness to make others learn truly made education worthwhile. Former students say he could be counted on to be in class every day with a prepared lecture.
He would argue his views with students, but never with malice. Once again, he was teaching the values of our government and the power of words.
As a politician, EAST held conservative views that may have affected the students at ECU. But he once said, however, that he wouldn't have done anything to harm the majority, so it must have been right.
The power of EAST ideals were substantiated by his belief in Jesus Christ, his Savior, who often gave EAST the courage to execute his actions that often brought criticism from his opponents.
We will remember EAST for the man he was—a strong individual who overcame polio as a young man and a respected political genius who knew when to say the right thing at the right time.
He was a very tolerant man who enjoyed the input of people with other opinions, and who stood firm with his own.
ECU, the state and the nation have lost a brilliant man who stood for freedom and for keeping the treasure of America from slipping away. He did more in his short life than most would ever be able to accomplish.
The University will always acknowledge the contributions made by EAST to the academic reputation of this campus.
Our hearts go out to EAST's family, and to the students who will never be able to benefit from his keen knowledge of our government.
(From the Illinois Alumni News)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN EAST DIES AT CAROLINA HOME
U.S. Senator JOHN PORTER EAST, LL.B. ’59, (R., N.C.), died at his home in Greenville, N.C., June 29, He was 55.
EAST a member of the Senate since 1981, had decided not to run for a second term because of poor health. He was a paraplegic and had been confined to a wheelchair since 1955.
EAST was born in Springfield and was the son of an alumnus, the late Laurence J. EAST, M.S. ’27, a former superintendent of the now-defunct Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Children's Home in Normal.
He earned his bachelor's degree with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., where he also played football and was on the debating team.
He was a lieutenant in the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina when he contracted polio, just a year before the Salk polio vaccine became widely available.
After a year of therapy at Warm Springs, Ga., EAST enrolled in the U. of I. to study law because the then-new Law Building was easily accessible to wheelchairs.
EAST was elected president of the law school's Student Government Association his senior year and was first-place winner in the Federick Green Moot Court competition.
After graduation, he practiced law for a year in Naples, Fla., then enrolled at the University of Florida, where he earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in political science.
He joined the political science faculty of East Carolina University in Greenville in 1964 and soon became involved in state Republican politics. An unsuccessful bid for Congress and another for North Carolina Secretary of State preceded his Senate victory in 1980.
EAST served on the senate's judiciary, energy and labor committees and chaired the judiciary subcommittee on separation of powers. He also sat on the subcommittee's panels on the courts and on security and terrorism.
A political conservative, EAST was closely allied with his mentor, Senator Jesse Helms, on many issues.
EAST was the author of a book on council-manage government published by the University of North Carolina Press and was on the editorial boards of Modern Age and the Political Science Review at the time of his death.
He is survived by his wife, Priscilla, and two daughters.IN REMEMBRANCE OF A PIONEER
When I learned U.S. Senator JOHN EAST, R-N.C., killed himself Sunday, I was doubly saddened. He once was my instructor and friend; yet tragically, his suicide may be all most people will know about him.
We have a tendency to remember a person for the last big event in his life—or the most controversial event—instead of looking at the sum total of his contribution in life. I hope that is not the case with JOHN EAST.
His political views were far more conservative than most, but his courage in the face of adversity is the kind of quality all Americans respect.
EAST was my political science professor at East Carolina University 20 years ago. His teaching skills were as feisty as his arguments with visiting liberal (and even modeate) lecturers.
I can still remember the tall, prematurely bald scholar rising to full height, supported on crutches, and challenging Senator Albert Gore Sr., D-Tenn., to prove that political realignment would not work.
Like many very conservative Republicans in the 1960's EAST believed that all conservatives should move over to the Republican Party and those crazy liberals and moderates like Nelson Rockefeller should move into the Democratic Party.
I did not adopt his political philosophy, but I absorbed his perseverance and his recognition that the political system is not some dull game way off in the big city. It is people and ideas on every level from the drug store to the college think tank.
EAST's conservatism was based on fundamental academic reasoning and study, not of fads or demagoguery designed to whip up voters; emotions with buzz words.
Perhaps his greatest tragedy is that fame came late for him. He began running in 1966. He was elected in 1980 after other people who followed his original lead had already been elected.
Commentators describe Senator Jesse Helms, R-N.C., as EAST's mentor. But EAST was among the first Republicans who dared to run for state or federal office in the South—not in the popular Nixon years or the Reagan landslides, but in the 1960's when journalists were questioning whether the Republican Party would survive.
Florida's own Republican Senator Paula Hawkins, also elected in 1980, often quoted the quiet senator and his ideas.
Running as a Republican in 1966, EAST came close to winning a congressional seat in eastern North Carolina—where, at that time, folks still broke windows on cars with Republican bumper stickers (including cars of some EAST supporters that year.) He later ran unsuccessfully for North Carolina secretary of state.
JOHN EAST's conservatism was very important to this country as a counterpoint to the liberalism of senators like George McGovern and Jacob Javits. In a political scientist's point of view, the pendulum must swing back and forth to match economic pulls and cycles of the nation.
EAST provided a firm foundation for the conservative tone. Admittedly, some of his legislation, such as trying to declare in law that human life begins at conception, was a little bit radical for some. But there have many radical ideas from both ends of the political spectrum; they keep us from falling asleep in the middle.
In Washington recently, I tried, at the suggestion of Hawkins, to visit my professor for the first time in 18 years. She said he had been depressed over his many illnesses over the past year.
But, after being put off by his staff and loaded with other assignments. I didn't have time to tough it out with protective aides trying to limit their senator's time to issues. I decided not to do my usual lunge past the secretaries.
“I'll see him next trip,” I told myself at the airport Thursday.