Former RI Senator Claiborne Pell Dies

From the Providence Journal.

Claiborne deBorda Pell, the quirky Newport blueblood who held the affections of blue-collar Rhode Island and championed better education of the poor during a 36-year Senate career, died shortly after midnight today at his home in Newport. He was 90 years old.

Pell is best remembered for the creation of the college grant program that bears his name, that have helped millions attend.  The Pell Grants, originally called the Basic Educational Opportunity Grants (BEOG) created  in 1972.


Pell tidbits.

  • suffered from Parkinson’s disease
  • U.S. senator from Rhode Island from 1961 to 1997
  • supporter of education, the arts and humanities, and foreign affairs during his 36 years in the Senate
  • chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • never lost an election
  • “I always try to let the other fellow have my way,” he said again and again.
  • old money millionaire
  • drove for years in a white Mustang that was fitted with a roll-bar
  • Princeton ’40 cum laude
  • MFA from Columbia
  • father of the National Endowment for the Arts
  • onetime Foreign Service officer
  • The only child of Herbert Claiborne and Matilda (Bigelow) Pell, Jr., Claiborne deBorda Pell was born on Nov. 22, 1918, into a family whose forbears included fighters on both sides of the American Revolution, five members of Congress and a vice president (George M. Dallas, who served under President James K. Polk from 1845 to 1849)
  • Pell’s father represented Manhattan’s silk stocking district in the House from 1918-20. As President, Roosevelt appointed him minister to Portugal and Hungary.
  • Coast Guard ship’s cook WWII, retired from reserves in 1978 as captain
  • In 1951, the Pells built a shingled ranch house, largely of Pell’s design, overlooking Rhode Island Sound on Ledge Road, near Bailey’s Beach in Newport.
  • motto: “Don’t attack the other fellow. Keep a sense of humor. Do the unexpected.”

More at WPRI.

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