Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, who guided the state through a period of school busing to achieve integration in the 1970s, died early Thursday. He was 85.
Here is a compilation of reactions and tributes to Gov. Askew’s passing:
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson:
“Gov. Askew was one of the best examples of integrity in the public square. He believed that ‘a public office is a public trust.’ “
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio:
“As one of the most beloved and effective governors in Florida’s history, Reubin Askew’s service improved the lives of many people across our state. He played a critical role in shaping Florida into the great state it is today, championing government transparency, stronger ethics laws and civil rights.
“One of the most remarkable things about Askew’s time in office is how deeply it embodies the values by which he lived. Throughout his many years of service, it was often his personal integrity that inspired the public. Askew was a man of principle, guiding Florida through a critical time in America’s history by advocating such things as racial tolerance and school desegregation. And although he was a Democrat, he believed in the sanctity of unborn life.
“Reubin Askew led by example, and his efforts to promote the good in both people and our government will never be forgotten. My wife Jeanette and I send our condolences to his family and friends as they mourn his passing and celebrate his life.”
Governor Rick Scott:
“Governor Askew served our nation as a veteran, he served Florida’s families as an elected officeholder, and he served our children as an educator. He helped lead Florida to enormous growth and was a trailblazer for good government. His advocacy for Florida’s sunshine laws was a landmark moment for ethics and transparency in government, and that legacy continues to endure. His accomplishments were vast, but he remained humble and took his commitment to public service seriously. Governor Askew strove to make life better for all of Florida’s families, and that dedication is an example for all who followed in his footsteps. Ann and I mourn his passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Donna Lou, and his entire family.”
Former Governor Jeb Bush:
“With the passing of Governor Reubin Askew, Florida has lost one of the great leaders who played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of our state during a time of substantial growth and change. He led on contentious issues, fought for equality and did what he believed was in the best interests of Florida families. Governor Askew always put principle before politics and I was fortunate to know him, seek counsel from him and learn from his years of service.
“Governor Askew’s service to Florida continued well past his time in elected office as he lectured at universities across the state, instilling in so many young Floridians the same passion for good public policy and ethical governance that he demonstrated throughout his storied career.
“Reubin Askew will always be remembered as a great Floridian and a committed, accomplished public servant. Columba and my prayers are with Donna Lou and the entire Askew family as they mourn this grave loss.”
“Governor Askew opened up government to the people, allowing our state to be progressive on critical issues like civil rights, education, and ethics. He was a public servant, a teacher of students, and now a lesson of hope and progress forever sketched into the history of our beautiful state. Carole and I send our thoughts and prayers to Donna Lou, Kevin, and Angela.”
Former Governor Bob Martinez:
“Governor Askew was an outstanding person, public official and friend. His leadership in ethics reform, environment and bringing Floridians of all color, ethnicity and gender together is a legacy to be admired. On a personal note, he got me started in public life when he appointment me to the Southwest Water Management District in 1975. Over the years we had the opportunity to talk at various Tallahassee events and I had the privilege to lecture several times to students taking his class. He will be missed by family and friends. God Bless.”
CFO Jeff Atwater:
“I am saddened to learn of the passing of former Florida Governor Askew. He was a champion for racial equality who maintained an unrelenting pursuit to make Florida’s government more transparent and open for the people he served.
“I will always be grateful for the wisdom and time he shared with me. His generosity was evident in all aspects of his life.
“Governor Askew challenged us all to be better people. He was a great man whose legacy will always be remembered. My prayers are with his wife, Donna Lou, his children and his extended family during this time.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi:
“Gov. Askew was a courageous public servant who led by example. He was guided by honesty and integrity, and he set a high standard for public service as he pursued ethics reform, transparency, and equality. Gov. Askew’s love of teaching has inspired educators and students for decades. My prayers are with Gov. Askew’s family and friends, and especially with his wife, Donna Lou, who not too long ago celebrated her golden anniversary with Gov. Askew. Gov. Askew’s leadership as Florida’s 37th Governor and as a teacher improved the lives of countless individual Floridians and our state as a whole. His legacy will live on forever.”
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam via Twitter:
Florida lost one of its greatest leaders today w/ passing of Gov. Askew, but his legacy of integrity will live on for generations to come.
Senate President Don Gaetz:
“The passing of Gov. Reubin Askew leaves a lonesome place against the Florida sky. He opened up Florida’s government to its people and made our state a model for America. For those of us of a certain age who cut our political teeth in the 60s and 70s, Gov. Askew was living proof that good guys can finish first. Integrity was his platform and honor was his policy. I was privileged to get to know him in his final years. One of the most memorable evenings of my life was the opportunity to co-teach his graduate class at Florida State. Being in his presence was like walking with history.”
House Speaker Will Weatherford:
“In Governor Askew, Florida has lost a leader who embodied what it means to be a true public servant. Governor Askew leaves behind a legacy of public service that has set the standard for all individuals in elected office today. His tenure includes opening up government and creating new reporting standards for elected officials, which still serve Florida well today. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know this great man. I offer my prayers to his family and his wife Donna Lou.”
Congresswoman Kathy Castor:
“Gov. Reubin Askew brought Florida into the modern era. His commitment to the Sunshine law, high ethical standards and equal rights charted a course of positive change across our state. The integrity and moral forthrightness he exercised in and out of public office stand as important examples for all who enter public service or who want to be good citizens for our state that Gov. Askew loved so much.”
House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston:
“Reubin Askew distinguished himself as one of the greatest governors in Florida history, having been a champion for racial equality, ethics and tax reforms, and modernizing our state government. Reubin Askew served with honor in the Florida Senate and the state House of Representatives, where he enjoyed a reputation for integrity, compassion, and Democratic Party principles. Governor Askew’s devotion to the people of Florida and his enduring legacy will be missed tremendously.”
Representative Alan Williams:
“Reubin Askew was a champion of moral values and civil rights in Florida. As Governor, Reubin Askew was known as, “the father of open government” and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of all Floridians. Governor Askew made Florida government more transparent under his leadership. Because of his professionalism and competence, he brought dignity to politics and was respected by people on both sides of the aisle. As a past professor, it’s fitting that the Askew School of Public Policy at Florida State University is named in his honor.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Askew family. I was blessed to have had Governor Askew friendship over the years. It was such a joy and learning opportunity whenever I was in his presence at a Florida State University game or a visit to Westminster Oaks. Governor Askew will be sorely missed, but he will be present every time a legislator files a bill, a constituent submits a public records request, or when the Seminoles score a touchdown.”
Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant:
“Reubin Askew was a giant of Florida history, whose unparalleled accomplishments for the people of Florida set the example all Floridians elected to public office strive to meet. We will miss his wisdom, his friendship, and his leadership in difficult times.
“Reubin Askew leaves behind a legacy as strong as the principles he fought for. His commitment to honesty in government, to civil rights, and to the middle class restored people’s faith that government could work for them. Reubin Askew will live on in the memories of those who knew him and in the lives of the millions of Floridians whose lives he touched. Let us all continue to serve Florida in that spirit.”
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry:
“Governor Askew was an outstanding public servant, upon whose shoulders others have stood to carry on his legacy of good and transparent government. He was a family man, an educator, a veteran of our armed forces, and a man of unmatched integrity. We mourn the passing of this great leader, but more importantly, celebrate his life and the way in which he committed it to public service.”
Congressional candidate Gwen Graham:
“Today we remember the life and legacy of Governor Reubin Askew. He was a great statesman and public servant for the people of Florida.
“Governor Askew showed Florida and America true leadership. He understood what it meant to put the people before politics — from advancing civil rights as governor to teaching at Florida State University.
“I was blessed with the honor of knowing Governor Askew. He was a truly decent man whose impact on our state will be felt long after his passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Former state Senator Nan Rich:
“Florida mourns the loss today of former Governor Reubin Askew, a truly great leader — a man of moral conviction and genuine compassion. His administration set a standard for fairness, openness, and honesty that has not been surpassed.“Governor Askew led Florida through a period of significant change. He appointed the first African American to the State Supreme Court as well as the State Cabinet. He was an outspoken advocate for environmental protection and strong growth management laws. And, perhaps most surprisingly, he ran and won on a platform of tax reforms that required corporations to pay taxes.“But his commitment to transparency – to demanding that the public’s business be conducted in public view — may be his most important legacy. The “Government in the Sunshine” law Governor Askew ushered in remains a national model to this day.“Reubin Askew was, by every measure, a true Progressive Democrat long before anyone else. And Florida is a better place today for his service.”
Florida Tax Watch’s Dominic Calabro:
“It with heavy hearts that the officers, board members, and staff of Florida TaxWatch mourn the passing of Governor Reubin Askew today. As Florida’s 37th Governor, he was one of our nation’s finest governors and a highly committed public servant who truly continued to improve the state through his guidance and leadership until his death.
“The Governor left a legacy not only as a dedicated policymaker, but also as a teacher committed to educating Florida’s future policy leaders. As a former student of his at Florida State University’s Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy, I was fortunate enough to learn from him and his principled and inspiring leadership.
“Governor Askew was a great Florida leader, championing transparency and accountability in government, and guiding the state through major social changes. He also shepherded important tax reforms for the state, that continue to this day.
“Recently, Governor Askew attended the 25th Annual Florida TaxWatch Prudential Productivity Awards ceremony in Tallahassee, where he reiterated his admiration of Florida TaxWatch’s leadership and his support for improving accountability and efficiency within Florida government, so that the state can provide the highest-level of service to its hardworking taxpayers.”
Greenberg Traurig’s Larry Hoffman:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our former shareholder, Reubin Askew. He will remain a legacy to all Florida residents for the impact he had on shaping the growth of our state and the uniquely profound impact he had on our law firm during his years as our colleague. He was a role model for our lawyers and for all who met him, whose high standards of ethics and integrity, and whose dedication to seeking equal justice, will inspire many future generations at Greenberg Traurig, throughout the legal profession and this fine state.”