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Champion of US agriculture, former Illinois Rep. Paul Findley dies at 98

Republican congressman drew attention for his criticism of U.S. policy on Palestine

Illinois Rep. Paul Findley works in his Capitol Hill office in 1976. (CQ/Roll Call file photo)
Illinois Rep. Paul Findley works in his Capitol Hill office in 1976. (CQ/Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Paul Findley, who represented his Springfield-based district for 22 years, died Friday at the age of 98. 

The Illinois Republican was commemorated by the man who succeeded him — Democrat Richard J. Durbin, now the state’s senior senator — as an “exceptional public servant” and friend.

“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,” Durbin said in a statement.

First elected in 1960, Findley was known as a champion of U.S. agriculture. Durbin unseated him by 1,410 votes in 1982, after his district became more Democratic following decennial redistricting.

Findley drew attention for his criticism of American policy on Palestine, which he believes may have cost him his seat, as he wrote in 2007. Durbin, then a Springfield lawyer, received the backing of pro-Israel groups in the race.

In 1985, Findley wrote “They Dare to Speak Out,” a book about the influence of the pro-Israel lobby. 

Rep. Paul Findley, R-Ill. skakes paws with
Findley shakes paws with Fritz, a hearing dog, in 1976. Also pictured is Deanne Witte, an Illinois teacher who was in D.C. to help out at Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University). (Mickey Senko/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Findley was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, and attended Illinois College. He served as a Navy officer in World War II. He once served as an editor of Pike Press, Inc., in Pittsfield, Illinois.


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