Former Senator Bob Dole passed away on December 5, 2021, at 98. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Despite undergoing treatment, he lost his battle with the disease.
Robert Joseph Dole was from Russell, Kansas. Born on July 22, 1923, Dole excelled at athletics playing basketball for the University of Kansas and track and football.
However, when the United States joined WWII, Dole signed up with the Army. In 1942, he was a 2nd Lt. with the 10th Mountain Division. In 1945, Dole was injured while fighting by Castel d’Aiano in the Appennine Mountains near Bologna, Italy.
Dole had shrapnel hit his right arm and upper back, which shattered parts of his spine and collarbone. Dole said, “I lay face down in the dirt. I could not see or move my arms. I thought they were missing.”
Dole was administered morphine in the field. With an “M” on his forehead, Dole was transported to a military hospital near Kansas, unable to move from the neck down. Doctors did not think he would make it with blood clots, an infection, and a 109 fever.
Chicago surgeon Dr. Hampar Kalikan went through seven operations to help Dole recover, all of which he did for free. In 1947, Dole left the Army with the rank of captain. His left arm still was numb, and he had limited use of his right.
He went back to school and earned a law degree. In 1950, Dole won the Kansas House of Representatives race and supported the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1969 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Dole became a U.S. Senator in 1968. He was the Republican National Committee chairman from 1971-1973 and the Senate Majority leader in 1984. He attempted to run for vice president with Geral Ford in 1976, but the pair did not win. He lost multiple bids for the presidential nomination, until 1996 when he finally was nominated but lost to Bill Clinton.
After, Dole exited politics and leaned on his sense of humor, focusing on writing, public speaking, consulting, and T.V. appearances. He was presented with many awards, including the Presidential Citizens Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and at 95, Congress voted to promote him to a colonel.
“I’ve had a great life, and this is sort of icing on the cake,” Dole said.