Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole died Wednesday at the age of 94, a senator from a small town in Kansas, with an outsized personality he could never quite live up to. A retired four-term Republican senator who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1996, Dole had been an essential figure in both major parties, appearing on the cover of Time magazine with his wife Elizabeth during their (lack of a) White House run.
Many Kansans, friends and strangers alike, traveled to Ewing, Kansas, this week to mourn his passing. Interviewed with the Kansas City Star on Thursday, Sen. Pat Roberts said Dole took him as a boy into the Senate, where his father worked as a “historian.”
“When he finally gave up working,” Roberts said, “the dignity that he brought to the Senate was really appreciated by all of us because he took people at their word. In his speech in January, he said, ‘The Senate was the place for compromise.'”
Still, there are a few things about Dole’s career that seem more than a little mystifying in retrospect.
Story after story chronicled Dole’s many battle scars. Most notably, his right arm was shattered during World War II. His hand was burned by ricocheting shell fragments, and there was a great deal of focus on how and why he had never managed to tie his shoes and ski in spite of having qualified for both by the time he was 70.