Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2012

25 years ago: A long life well lived for Frank Carlson

May 30, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for May 30, 1987:

Longtime public servant Frank Carlson, 94, had passed away today in Concordia, Kansas, after an extended hospitalization. The former U.S. Senator was the only Kansas politician to have held the three offices of senator, governor, and congressman. Carlson's unpretentious manner and unassuming style had given him a close rapport with ordinary Kansans and had aided him in his 13 election victories in 13 tries from 1928 to 1962. He had retired at the age of 74 after 40 years of public service, saying that it was his desire "to have the same opportunity to enjoy the same privilege most of you here now enjoy: that of being a private citizen in our great state of Kansas." He had then retired with his wife Alice, whom he had married in 1919, to his 500-acre family farm near Concordia, where he could be seen for more than another decade driving a tractor, plowing a field, or baling hay.


Sarah St. John 6 years ago

"[He] was the only Kansas politician to have held the three offices of senator, governor, and congressman."

Actually, according to online sources, he was the only Kansan to hold the FOUR offices of Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, and Kansas Representative.

This is one of those people that I hesitate to call a "politician," as "public servant" seems to fit him better. I'm glad he got his time on the farm after all that work on behalf of Kansans.

Excerpts from the 1987 J-W:

"He was twice elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, six times to the U.S. House, twice to the governorship and three times to the U.S. Senate.... In 1982, when former Gov. Alf M. Landon observed his 95th birthday, one of those who arranged an observance in Topeka for Landon called Carlson to see if he wanted to convey his best wishes to Landon, the 1936 Republican presidential nominee. 'I'm glad you caught me,' Carlson told the caller. 'I was just headed down to cut weeds behind the barn.' Carlson was 89 at the time."

"Re-elected governor in 1948, Carlson's four years as Kansas chief executive were marked by the launching of ambitious highway improvement, mental health and rural health care programs...."

"Carlson was the son of Swedish immigrants who settled on a Cloud County farm in the late 19th century. A serious-minded youth with deep religious convictions, Carlson became superintendent of a Sunday School when he was 16. Years later, he helped organize the first Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington when Dwight Eisenhower, a fellow Kansan, was president.... Carlson completed an agricultural course at Kansas State College at Manhattan, then inherited the family farm in 1914 when he was 21 and began farming. After military duty during World War I, he married Alice Frederickson in 1919....."

"Carlson's formula for political success was simple: treat all affairs of state seriously and handle people with a common touch. He was credited with helping devise the income tax withholding system to insure people could pay their taxes. He opposed much of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs in the 1930s, but helped champion Lyndon Johnson's civil rights legislation in 1964.... In his farewell to politics delivered Dec. 19, 1967, in Topeka Carlson said: 'To be chosen to serve one's fellow men is indeed a great honor and privilege. In this respect, my fellow Kansans have truly been good to me.'"

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