Political Titian George Voinovich dies at age 79
A public viewing for Cleveland native, former Ohio Governor, U.S. Senator and Cleveland mayor George V. Voinovich will be held Thursday June 16, in the Cleveland City Hall Rotunda from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The well-respected Ohio politician died at home in his sleep at the age of 79. Voinovich served as Cleveland’s mayor from 1980 to 1989. The Rotunda program will start at 2 p.m.
The funeral Mass is planned for Voinovich on Friday June 17, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Euclid. The burial will take place at All Souls Cemetery in Chardon.
Voinovich’s term as Cleveland mayor was seen as a time to move forward past the difficulties that took place during the previous mayoral administration of Dennis Kucinich. Under Voinovich and his diplomatic approach as mayor lead a “Comeback City” movement that saw his beleaguered city out of a crippling debts to emerge from its default status and the viable restructuring of what became CPP (Cleveland Public Power).
No republican has served as the mayor of Cleveland since Voinovich.
He became Ohio’s 65th Governor from 1991 to 1998, going on to serve as U.S. Senator from 1999 to 2011.
Voinovich was an Ohio political titan, who mixed fiscal prudence with political moderation during his nearly half-century of public service in Ohio, died on Sunday June 12.
Voinovich served two terms as Ohio Governor in the 1990s and two terms in the U.S. Senate, capping a political career that started in 1963 and led him to the Cleveland mayor's office on his way to the governor's office and then Washington.
Former President George H.W. Bush weighed in on Sunday as well. "George Voinovich was, in my view, the quintessential public servant," he said in a statement. "He brought people together, focused on results, and left his state and our country a better place thanks to his selfless commitment."
During his campaign for Cleveland mayor, Voinovich's family suffered a terrible tragedy. His 9-year-old daughter, Molly, was killed in 1979 when she was hit by a van that went through a red light. Molly was returning to school after lunch.
She was the youngest of four children born to Voinovich and his wife, Janet.
"When one loses a child, things come into focus, what is important, what is unimportant. You see more. You feel more. You experience more. We all take so much for granted," he said later.
Over his 12 years in the Senate, Voinovich was seen as a centrist lawmaker who was willing to buck his party.
He supported legislation for a new round of military base closures and opposed repeal of the estate tax. He was an early supporter of a proposed federal bailout for the auto industry, which employs thousands of people in Ohio, and he was the rare Republican during the Bush administration to suggest raising taxes to pay for the war in Iraq and hurricane relief.
Voinovich proved to be so popular that, in his 2004 re-election, he won all 88 Ohio counties.
His second-term entry in that book calls him "a low-wattage, middle-of-the-road Republican with a deep commitment to fiscal restraint and an abiding interest in foreign policy." The profile recounts Voinovich's opposition to a $410 billion omnibus spending bill in 2009, even though he had just won a seat on the coveted Senate Appropriations Committee.
"... Unless we fix our tax and entitlement system, we might as well be flying a kamikaze plane," the Ohio Republican said at the time.
Near the end of his second term in the Senate, Voinovich announced that he would not run again in 2010. He said he wanted to retire to spend more time with his family and at his condo on Florida's Gulf Coast. He also planned to write a book and agreed to be a consultant and adviser on major research projects at Ohio University and Cleveland State University.
As he left office, he counted among his accomplishments the passage of a global anti-Semitism bill, an effort to expand NATO and a bill to protect intellectual property. He also touted what he called a "nuclear renaissance," pushing to make it easier for nuclear power plants to get new licenses and financing, and to improve the oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Born George Victor Voinovich in 1936, he was the oldest of six children. His parents, George and Josephine, were Serbian and Slovenian. Their parents had immigrated to the United States from what is now Croatia, and Voinovich grew up with a strong ethnic identity that later served him well in politics.
Call & Post Publisher and several current and former office holders within the Buckeye State have offered condolences and memories in reference to the death of George Voinovich:
“We are all at a great loss because of the transition of your husband, loved one and our friend. I encourage you during this time of mourning when we know that George Voinovich was a believer in Christ Jesus. No matter whether George was a County Auditor, Mayor, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, or Senator for the great state of Ohio he never lost his personal touch or his humanism that he displayed for his fellow man. On behalf of the Call & Post Newspaper and myself, I offer my deepest condolences in the loss of this great patriot and my friend. There is nothing so kingly as kindness and nothing as royal as truth. Truly, George was a king among men as his kindness demonstrated. Royal was George as his truthfulness rained out around the world. Romans 14:8 states, for if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. The positive impact that
he has had on me as well as others is a living legacy and testimony of his great works. In
your time of need and sorrow always, remember that God is with you. “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted”, Matthew 5:4. Our loss is heaven’s gain and
we look forward to being with him again throughout eternity. My deepest sympathy,
“Only in America” Don King
"I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my former colleague, George Voinovich. I send my deepest condolences to the Voinovich family and everyone throughout our state who knew and loved him. I had the opportunity to get to know Senator Voinovich on our many trips back and forth to Washington. I respected him as a statesman, leader, and public servant. As far back as his days as mayor of the City of Cleveland, he brought a sound and reasoned approach to every discussion. He didn't make decisions based on partisanship. He believed in doing what was right and wanted to get things done. Senator Voinovich served this nation and the people of Ohio with honor and distinction. He will be greatly missed."
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge
"I am very saddened today by the passing of my friend George Voinovich. I respected him greatly and had a deep affection for him. His love for our state and his hometown of Cleveland was only surpassed by his love for his family and his wife Janet. He was guided by two ideas: love God and love your neighbor, and by faithfully applying them throughout his life he helped Ohioans see how much they could accomplish by working together. He was a unifier who thought outside the box, never gave up and worked hard for the ideas he believed in up until the very end of his life. Thanks to that leadership he saved Cleveland, governed Ohio compassionately and responsibly and was a candid voice for reason in the U.S. Senate. I am proud to have known him and grateful for what he did for our state and nation.
"To his wife Janet, his children and his many grandchildren, my family sends our condolences and heartfelt prayers at this difficult time, and on behalf of Ohio I send my gratitude for sharing this wonderful, dynamic man with us for so many years."
Ohio Gov. John Kasich
“George Voinovich was a devoted, thoughtful and compassionate public servant who gave much of his life working for all of us. After leaving the Senate, even up to recent weeks, he continued to advocate for projects to improve the lives of residents in northeast Ohio. This is a time we need more people like him. We will all miss him.”
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of The Honorable George V. Voinovich. He was a uniquely talented leader who served our state and the city of Cleveland selflessly as Governor, Senator, and as a fellow Mayor of the City of Cleveland. He will be missed. He was a real Clevelander. We did not look at him as a Republican or a Democrat but, as a Clevelander who we supported. He was a great man, a good leader, and consummate professional."
Mayor Frank Jackson
“Me and George Voinovich were great friends, we accomplished a lot during the time we both were in office for the city of Cleveland. I have so many fond memories and stories about him and how much he cared for people. I was very pleased one time when he came to me to talk about helping Black people, he knew what it took to make people happy. Once we discussed this matter, nothing ever had to be said about it again.
“Even being a republican we got along, he was not swayed by the trappings of Mayor or Governor, he viewed himself as being a person who went to those offices, not so much to lead as to serve.
Former longtime City Council President George L. Forbes.
“George Voinovich was a good and thoroughly decent man who ennobled government service through a lifetime of dedicated work. Our community will remember him not only as one of its favorite sons, but as an exemplar of the highest principles of leadership – – honesty and integrity and commitment to family. Elizabeth and I extend to the Voinovich family our deepest sympathies and much love at this time of great sorrow.”
Former Cleveland Mayor and US congressman Dennis Kucinich