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Former Member Carl Pursell Dies

Carl Pursell, a former eight-term Republican Congressman from eastern Michigan, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 76.Pursell graduated from Plymouth High School in 1951 and lived in the small town his whole life. He finished his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Michigan University in 1957, then spent two years in the Army before returning to the university to work on a master’s degree. He completed that in 1962, and the university remained an integral part of his life. He won his first elective office as a member of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners in 1969 and then was elected to the state Senate in 1971. Pursell won his first election to Congress in 1976 by 344 votes, showing strength in the Detroit suburbs around his home. He rose to become ranking member of the Appropriations Labor-Health and Human Services-Education subcommittee. He was generally moderate but was known for his fiscal conservatism. “Carl Pursell is rumpled, chatty, usually inclined to seek consensus, but ready to speak out when aroused,— the 1992 edition of the Almanac of American Politics noted. In 2000, he was inducted into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame, having served as first baseman and later manager on the Republican team.Pursell left the House on his own terms in 1992, possibly because of tough redistricting after the 1990 census, and briefly considered running for an open Senate seat but decided against it. Though he opted out of elected office, he continued as a public servant, joining the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents, where he served through 2000. His son Phil Pursell served as mayor of Plymouth until recently. Members of the Michigan delegation paid tribute to Pursell on the House floor Thursday. Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter said he grew up in Pursell’s district.“As a young person growing up getting interested in politics, Carl’s example was an inspiration,— he said. “It showed that a fine and decent gentleman could come from the small town of Plymouth, retain his Main Street truths and do the people’s business in this, the people’s House.—Pursell is survived by his wife, Peggy, and two sons and a daughter. The funeral service will be at Schrader-Howell Funeral Home in Plymouth at 1 p.m. Monday.

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