News broke early this morning that former Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO) has passed away at the age of 74 after battling cancer for several years.
Akin grew up in the St. Louis area and was a graduate of John Burroughs High School. He obtained a BS in Management Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts in 1970. Akin served in the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve from 1972 to 1980. He obtained a Masters of Divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in 1984. He married Lulli Boe in 1975, and they had six children.
Akin was a rock-ribbed conservative, who served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 1989 to 2001. In 2000, he was elected to Congress, representing Missouri’s 2nd District from 2001 to 2013.
In 2012, Akin threw his hat in the ring to challenge Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for the U.S. Senate. I had the privilege of attending the GOP Primary debate that summer and it solidified my support for Akin. He was unapologetically conservative and not afraid to buck the party line, particularly on fiscal matters.
Then came the horrible, no good, very bad “legitimate rape” comment, which undoubtedly torpedoed his Senate bid (and had Claire McCaskill squeeing). For those of us who were active in the Tea Party/grassroots movement at the time, Akin’s downfall (and the collateral damage to other promising Republican candidates, like Indiana’s Richard Mourdock) was a devastating blow. And, on a personal note, as the fledgling political blogger who’d been scheduled to interview Akin the day after the “legitimate rape” story broke (unsurprisingly, his campaign canceled the interview when the fit hit the shan), it was a double whammy of disappointment.
Though I had the opportunity to meet him several times, I can’t claim to have known Todd Akin well. But by all accounts of those who did, he was a good and decent man and a principled public servant. It’s a shame that the bulk of the reporting on his passing is focusing/will focus on one unfortunate (admittedly, very unfortunate) comment, rather than recognizing the full measure of a life well-lived.
Akin’s son, Perry, issued a poignant statement to The Associated Press.
“As my father’s death approached, we had people from all different walks of life share story after story of the personal impact he had on them,” Perry Akin said in a statement to The Associated Press.
“He was a devout Christian, a great father, and a friend to many. We cherish many fond memories from him driving the tractor at our annual hayride, to his riveting delivery of the freedom story at 4th of July parties dressed in the full uniform of a colonial minuteman. The family is thankful for his legacy: a man with a servant’s heart who stood for truth.”