After Phil Crane’s death was announced, one local politician observed the change in media treatment from when Melissa Bean was trying and succeeding in knocking him out office in 2002 and 2004.
Crane was widely praised after his death as the intellectual underpinning of today’s conservative movement.
I first heard him as a Young Republican when I was in grad school at the University of Michigan. He was the speaker at the fall dinner of the Washtenaw County Republican Party.
“Brilliant” was my take on his speech.
At the time Crane was teaching at Peoria’s Bradley University.
That was in 1964 when Barry Goldwater was the Republican Party’s standard bearer.
Crane replaced Don Rumsfeld in a low-turnout special election when Rumsfeld resigned to heads Richard Nixon’s Office of Economic Opportunity.
That election led to many others until he was the longest serving Republican congressman.
Reapportionment in 1982 brought his district into McHenry County. He was a fixture at Pro-Life events.
Lake in the Hills’ Ken Cabay worked closely with Crane and offers the following comments:
Phil was truly an American Patriot.
He adored his kids, but also loved the people he represented.
Phil was also a great story teller.
He enjoyed sharing little tidbits about other lawmakers in Washington that always made you laugh.
In all the years I knew Phil I can’t remember him ever wearing any clothes other than red. white and blue.
Phil and Henry Hyde where very good friends and two of the most Conservative people that I ever called good friends.
I’m sure their both up in heaven looking down on us and are still laughing at Bill and Hillary Clinton……
God Bless You Phil, and thanks for the many loyal years you gave to your country.
Crane’s obituary follows:
Obituary for Philip Miller Crane
Philip M. Crane, 84, a former congressman from Illinois who represented Illinois’ 8th Congressional District (previously the 12th District) for 35 years (1969-2004), passed away peacefully at the home of his daughter, Rebekah, on November 8th in Jefferson, Maryland.
Crane was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 3, 1930 to George W. Crane and Cora Ellen Miller. He received his undergraduate degree from Hillsdale College in 1952 and went on to earn a PhD in history from Indiana University in 1963. He also served in the US Army from 1954-1956.
Crane gained national recognition in politics through his work on the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign in 1964. While working as an Assistant Professor of History at Bradley University (1963-1967), Crane proved to be a popular and charismatic public speaker on behalf of Goldwater. Through these efforts and his book, “The Democrats Dilemma” which came out in 1964, Crane became a leading national figure in the fledgling conservative movement.
While serving as headmaster of Westminster Academy in Chicago in 1969, Crane was urged to enter a special election race triggered by the appointment of then Illinois Congressman Donald Rumsfeld to the Nixon Administration. Crane won the primary and went onto win the election, serving in that seat from 1969 until his defeat in 2004.
As a leader of the conservative movement in Congress, Crane was instrumental in the founding of a number of conservative organizations that flourish to this day. In 1973, he founded the Republican Study Committee which is the preeminent GOP conservative organization in the House of Representatives. In that same year, he was a leader in the effort to form the Heritage Foundation which has grown into one of the most well known and respected conservative think tanks in the country. Later in the 1970s, he also served as head of the American Conservative Union.
In Congress, Crane spent most of his career serving on the Ways and Means Committee. There he championed lower taxes, a simplified tax code, free market economics, and free trade. He was the ranking member and eventually Chairman of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee. There he led the effort to pass numerous free trade agreements including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He also was very active in efforts to reduce or limit government spending and authored and supported hundreds of bills and amendments to accomplish those ends.
His passion for history and the US Constitution was always evident in his public speeches and floor debate as he routinely cited historical events and the Constitution to make his case. Crane also wrote numerous books. In addition to his most celebrated work, “The Democrats Dilemma”, he also wrote the “The Sum of Good Government” in 1976, and “Surrender in Panama: The Case Against the Treaty” in 1978.
In addition to his efforts on behalf of Barry Goldwater, Crane was actively/directly involved in Presidential politics in the 1970s and 1980s. He was the first sitting Congressman to come out and openly support Ronald Reagan’s effort to defeat then President Gerald Ford in the 1976 Republican presidential primary. When it appeared that Reagan was not going to run in the next presidential election, Crane threw his hat in the ring in 1978 to run for the 1980 GOP nomination, only to have Reagan enter the race later. Crane eventually withdrew from the race throwing his support to Reagan.
While Crane was a fierce partisan in debate and on the campaign trail, he was very personable and well liked by members of both parties who he served with and got to know over the years. He was well known for his great sense of humor and was a master joke teller and prankster as anyone who spent time with him would soon discover. He took pride in hand writing hundreds of letters over the years to family, friends and constituents and was particularly quick to write a note to friends or colleagues who were facing difficult times or had lost a loved one.
A loving father and husband, Phil was preceded in death by his parents, George and Cora Crane, his wife, Arlene, his brother, George, and his daughter, Rachel. He is survived by his siblings, Judy, Daniel and David and his children, Catherine, Susanna, Rebekah, Jennifer, Sarah, George and Carrie in addition to numerous grandchildren.
Family and friends will be gathering at the Loudoun Funeral Chapel, 158 Catoctin Circle SE Leesburg, VA 20175 on Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 6:00-8:00 PM. There will be a formal funeral service on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 1:00 PM in Hillsboro Indiana at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church with a viewing from 11:00 – 1:00 PM at the church prior to the service. Interment will be at Rose Hill Cemetery in Hillsboro, Indiana.