John Din­gell was a great leader

The Detroit News - - OPINIONS -

H“Outta’ My Mind on a Mon­day Moanin’ ” is last line in his last tweet was sim­ple and to the point: “…You’re not done with me yet.”

From the mo­ment he en­tered hos­pice care, to the mo­ment we no­ticed his wife was not in at­ten­dance at Pres­i­dent

Don­ald Trump’s State of the Union ad­dress, we knew the end was com­ing soon.

Just not this soon. Con­gress­man John Din­gell died Thurs­day at the age of 92.

By now you’ve seen and heard count­less trib­utes and rec­ol­lec­tions of him and his amaz­ing body of work crammed into 59 years rep­re­sent­ing Michi­gan in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

As I was writ­ing my col­umn Thurs­day night about the Chicago auto show, the bulletin telling us he had lost his long bat­tle with a va­ri­ety of health is­sues pinged on my phone.

We were plan­ning on talk­ing with his de­voted and lov­ing wife of nearly 40 years, Rep. Deb­bie Din­gell, (or as he al­ways re­ferred to her, “The Lovely Deb­o­rah”) on our morn­ing show Fri­day af­ter an ex­pected up­date from his doc­tors.

In­stead, the con­ver­sa­tion took place Thurs­day night, af­ter he was gone. He went quickly, in the mid­dle of a bed­side con­ver­sa­tion with the love of his life.

The his­tory books will re­mem­ber him as the long­est serv­ing mem­ber of Congress, for nearly six decades, un­der 11 pres­i­dents.

One of the most pow­er­ful men ever in Wash­ing­ton, he loved com­ing home to Michi­gan.

We will re­mem­ber him as a gen­tle man with a big hand­shake and a big smile, who would stop ev­ery­thing, look you in the eye and ask how you and your fam­ily were do­ing.

That was not cam­paign­ing. That was re­ally car­ing.

That was John Din­gell.

PAUL W. SMITH

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