Sunday, August 11, 2019

Former Congressman Paul Findley dies at 98. (SAR)

The Austin Texas based copy desk editors of the once-local St. Augustine Record printed a 901 word obituary in this morning's thin news section that left us scratching our heads. Paul Findley was a Congressman from Jacksonville, ILLINOIS. I reckon the overworked, underpaid denizens of GateHouse editorial officers didn't notice the difference between Jacksonville, Illinois and Jacksonville, Florida (or care).

After all, a GateHouse reporter had written a story, and it filled space. See 200 Newspapers; 1 Copy Desk – GateHouse Media Expands Its Centralized News Hub in Austin

This is evidently the same methodology of the Gannett editors who run the Tallahassee Democrat, often printing irrelevant stories just to fill space in a once-local newspaper.

Now the two newspaper empires have proposed a merger. Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery in the newspaper "business."

Here are some of the nameless folks who comprise the distant copy desk for the once-local St. Augustine Record, now in Austin, Texas:

By Bernard Schoenburg / GateHouse Media
Posted Aug 10, 2019 at 7:43 PM
Former U.S. Rep. Paul Findley, a Republican who served in Congress for 22 years — backing civil rights, opposing the Vietnam War, and an advocate for agriculture as well as engagement with the Arab world, including Palestinians — died Friday in Jacksonville, Ill. He was 98.

“Dad loved his country, he loved public service,” said his son, Craig Findley, also of Jacksonville. “He lived to help people. He did that for his entire life.

“My dad saw war and he hated it,” Craig Findley added. “He saw discrimination and always tried to overcome it. He was a great father to me, and a great inspiration. And I know that he touched many lives. For 40 years, I’ve had people come up to me, even as recently as this week, to say that dad, in some way great or small, was kind to them or did them a service. He may be remembered for the large things he worked on, but I think he was most proud of how he was able to help individuals in times of need, or just to be a kind and considerate person.”

Findley lost his bid for a 12th, two-year term in the U.S. House to now-U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, in 1982.

“Paul Findley was my political opponent, but he was also my friend,” Durbin said in a statement Friday. “Over the years, our conversations increased in number and a friendship emerged. ... Paul Findley will be remembered as a true expert in ag policy, a small-town newspaper publisher with a passion for foreign policy, and an elected official who showed exceptional courage in tackling the age-old controversies in the Middle East.”

The friendship between Durbin and Findley was on display in 2012, when Findley introduced Durbin to an Illinois College audience as Durbin delivered a lecture and was given an honorary degree.

“I could not have asked for a more generous introduction,” Durbin said Friday of that event.

A major issue in Durbin’s winning campaign in 1982 involved Israel and Findley’s support for the rights of Palestinians, including Yasser Arafat, who chaired the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The U.S. and Israel considered the group to be a terrorist organization.

Findley was born in Jacksonville, and after graduation from Illinois College, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific theater during World War II. He met his late wife, Lucille, while both were stationed on Guam. They moved to Washington, D.C., after the war and Findley worked as a journalist. They later moved to Pittsfield, where he became president of the Pike Press. He was elected to Congress in 1960.

According to his obituary, he was an unyielding advocate for civil rights, an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, and a primary author of the 1973 War Powers Act, which limits presidential authority in waging war. In addition to his work on Middle East issues, he was also known for support of family farmers.

Attorney Stephen Jones, 79, of Enid, Oklahoma, worked as administrative assistant -- similar to chief of staff -- for Findley in Congress.

“Politically, he was not afraid to change his mind and opinions, depending upon new ideas or new facts, or just the evolution of his thinking,” Jones said of Findley. “He was always a strong supporter for civil rights.”

Jones noted that Findley in 1965 arranged the appointment of the first African-American House page -- a Springfield high school student at the time named Frank Mitchell.

Mitchell came to Springfield from his Houston home in 2015 for a gathering to mark the 50th anniversary of that appointment, and at the time said Findley was “someone I greatly admire.”

Jones also said Findley had political courage and independence.

“He was the first Republican congressman to advocate (for) the normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China,” Jones said.

Jones, who has served as an attorney for Findley and who calls him one of the best friends he’s ever had, said Findley’s backing of Palestinian rights was “politically brave,” but also cost him politically.

“Several prominent people who would (have) come to his district to campaign for him didn’t,” Jones said.

“Bob Hope was one of them,” Jones said of the famous comedian known for entertaining American troops. “Mr. Hope called him and said ... his manager was Jewish and they were strong supporters of Israel, and it would be difficult to understand. Mr. Findley took that graciously (and) said, ’Bob, I understand (and) appreciate your support in the past.”

Jones also said Findley was “morally, intellectually, financially, straight as an arrow. ... He was a man of just unimpeachable integrity, (and) had a great sense of humor.” He also, Jones said, had good friends on both sides of the political aisle.

According to his obituary, Findley was proud and humbled to serve the same territory in Congress as did Abraham Lincoln, and considered the transfer of Lincoln Home in Springfield to the National Park Service one of his greatest achievements.

After leaving Congress, he continued work in agricultural development, and stayed involved in foreign policy as an author and lecturer. The federal courthouse in downtown Springfield is named for Findley.

In addition to son Craig, Findley has a daughter, Diane Findley, who lives in Colorado. He has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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