James B. Pearson 2009 - 1920 Baldwin City and Gloucester, Mass.
A memorial service for former U.S. Senator James B. Pearson, 88, Baldwin City and Gloucester, Mass., will be at a later date in Baldwin City. Mr. Pearson died Jan. 13, 2009, at his home in Gloucester.He was born May 7, 1920, in Nashville, Tenn., the son of John William Pearson and Lillian Blackwood. He grew up in Virginia.Mr. Pearson served 17 years as a Republican U.S. Senator from Kansas. He retired in 1979 and was succeeded by Nancy Kassebaum Baker.He served as a Navy transport pilot during World War II. He flew DC-3s, often landing at Olathe Naval Air Station near Kansas City. He earned a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1950 and practiced law in Prairie Village. After serving as a probate judge, he was elected to the Kansas Senate in 1956.He became Republican State Chairman in 1960. Upon the death of Sen. Andrew Schoeppel, Gov. John Anderson appointed Mr. Pearson to fill the seat in 1962.Mr. Pearson introduced a bill in 1972 that would become the leading bill in natural gas deregulation. He formed a coalition with Lloyd Bentsen of Texas as chief Democrat sponsor. The Pearson-Bentsen bill became law as the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978.Mr. Pearson also worked to improve grain car service, and his legislation created the airport-airways trust fund. He helped modify the filibuster rule, reducing the number of votes required to end debate.He served on the Foreign Relations Committee, breaking with the Nixon administration on bombing Laos and Cambodia and advocating the expansion of international trade. He worked with Kansas farm groups on transportation issues and advocated rural development.He secured authorization for Foreign Service Officers to take temporary positions in state and local governments to refresh their knowledge of domestic politics.He donated funds to create the James B. Pearson fellowship, to allow Kansas graduate students to study overseas.He married Martha Mitchell. He married Margaret Lynch in 1980. She survives, of the home.Other survivors include three sons, James, Thomas and William; a daughter, Laura; and a sister, Virginia Green.The family suggests memorials to the Pearson fellowship program, Baker University, the University of Virginia Law School Foundation or the area VNA Care network.