RUSSELL, Kan. — Former Sen. Bob Dole was honored with a memorial service in his hometown of Russell, Kansas, Saturday.
The longtime U.S. Senator from Kansas died Sunday at the age of 98 after announcing earlier this year a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis.
During his time in the military and as a dignitary, Dole traveled the world but never forget where he came from in Russell, Kansas. The people of his hometown won’t soon forget him, either.
Saturday morning, Russell woke up ready to say a final farewell to one of their own — an American hero who began with a simple life that became extraordinary.
“For Bob Dole, Russell was a place where a kid born poor could still dream big dreams," Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said during a memorial service Saturday morning.
A public viewing began at 10 a.m., with the memorial service following at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church.
Almost everyone who came had a story about the way Dole impacted their lives.
Dole represented Kansans in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996.
He held elective offices at state and national levels and was the 1996 Republican Party candidate for president.
"Honesty and integrity, for the most part, he was very compassionate about you as fellow veterans," said Ronald Purdie, who traveled from Derby.
Former colleagues had the opportunity to pay tribute to Dole as he lay in state at the U.S. Capitol Thursday.
Saturday, those who spoke at his memorial included Kelly, former Sen. Pat Roberts, Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Roger Marshall.
Dignitaries honored Dole's military service in World War II that severely wounded him and inspired him to spend the rest of his life working to improve the lives of veterans and the disabled.
"His disabilities developed his character. It developed an empathy for other people. And he turned his adversities into public service," Moran said.
In his decades of public service, Dole fought for all Kansans and the voiceless.
"Bob's influence, his manner, were so strong that when I was in the house, if I was for something people thought Bob was for something, and I assure never mentioned or informed them or Bob or otherwise," Roberts said.
But above all, he'll be remembered for his qualities that were based on values from his small town.
"Bob Dole will be with us whenever we lift up our neighbors and seek to create communities," Kelly said.
Including his willingness to overcome political divides.
"We mourn our man Bob, it can feel like the sun is setting on both the man and the greatest generation that he embodied," Moran said.
To continue honoring the late senator, U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann introduced a resolution to name the Russell post office after Dole.