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Funeral held for Rhode Island Sen. John Chafee

October 30, 1999
Web posted at: 12:27 p.m. EDT (1627 GMT)

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (CNN) -- Sen. John Chafee was remembered Saturday in a funeral attended by President Clinton, about half the U.S. Senate and several other dignitaries.

The turnout of national figures was among the largest ever for the funeral of a U.S. senator -- a reflection of the admiration the moderate Republican earned during his four decades of public service, including 23 years in the Senate. Chafee died Sunday of heart failure at age 77.

Chafee died Sunday of heart failure at age 77  

Before the funeral, Chafee's flag-draped coffin was removed from the Rhode Island State House, where the late senator lay in state since Friday.

Six Marine Corps pallbearers then placed the coffin onto a carriage, and two horses pulled the carriage through downtown streets lined with people paying their last respects.

Following the carriage on foot were Chafee's five adult children. Eight black limousines completed the procession, carrying Chafee's wife, Virginia, and her grandchildren.

Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, Chafee served as governor of Rhode Island and in the state House of Representatives. He also had been Secretary of the U.S. Navy.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Almond will name a successor to serve out the remainder of Chafee's term, which ends at the end of 2000. Chafee had announced his retirement and his son, Lincoln Chafee, the Republican mayor of Warwick, is running for his seat.

If Lincoln Chafee is named to replace his father, he still would have to run for a seat in the November election in 2000.

A veteran of war and politics

John Chafee was born on October 22, 1922. He lived in Rhode Island for most of his life.

According to his biography on his Web page, Chafee interrupted his college education at Yale to serve in the Marine Corps during World War II and took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, the largest of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

After his military service, Chafee graduated from Yale in 1947 and earned a law degree from Harvard in 1950.

He was recalled to active military duty in 1951 and commanded a rifle company in Korea.

Chafee practiced law for a time after leaving Korea and then got involved with Rhode Island state politics.

From state house to U.S. Senate

Chafee served six years in the Rhode Island House of Representatives where he was elected minority leader. In 1962 he was elected governor, winning by only 398 votes. He was re-elected in 1964 and 1966 -- both times by the largest margin in state history. In January 1969, Chafee was appointed Secretary of the Navy -- a post he held for over three years.

Chafee started his Senate career in 1976. He was elected to his fourth term in 1994. His biography says Chafee "is the only Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Rhode Island in the past 68 years."

Chafee was chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In addition, he was a member of the committees on Finance, Taxation and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Chafee and his wife Virginia have five children and 12 grandchildren.


Chafee successor won't be named until at least next week (10-26-99)

Rhode Island's Sen. Chafee dies at 77 (10-25-99)


Sen. John H. Chafee's Web site


Saturday, October 30, 1999

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