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Mr. President, I recall the first time I heard of John East, was long before he ran for the Senate. As a matter of fact, it was before I came to the Senate. One of the members of my Governor's staff in Oregon, Conrad Joyner, had been Senator East's debate partner at Earlman College in Indiana. It was through my relationship with Conrad and the stories he related to me about his debating partner that I first was introduced to John East the man. When I later learned of his successful election to the U.S. Senate, I looked forward to meeting and working with this individual of whom I had heard but had never met.
While our different committee assignments and responsibilities precluded us from working closely together during the Senator's tenure in the Senate, I quickly developed a respect for his dedication and zeal for his work. I remember during my own days teaching political science at Willamette University and challenging my students to develop and cultivate a philosophy of government.
I shared with Senator East on occasion our mutual backgrounds in that teaching profession and our wonderful experiences of working with students.
Senator East had a philosophy, one which he was deeply committed to. No one had to wonder where the Senator stood on an issue. His position was always clear and he was always an able advocate and defender of it.
Mr. President, the death of a colleague also causes one to reflect on how fragile life is and the value of friends and relationships. In modern day political life we have become so preoccupied with maintaining the proper external image that I fear we lose touch with the real person behind the image. The death of our friend John East is a reminder that behind the images we project as Senators are people with deep feelings. Sometimes they are feelings of rejoicing and of victory and other times feelings of pain, frustration, and defeat. Senator East's death is a testimony to the ease at which we can work closely with a colleague and yet not know of their struggle.
Mr. President, my thoughts and prayers for grace and strength during these difficult days go out to Mrs. East, the family, and the family's friends.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, 8 days ago, when I had the sad duty of formally advising the Senate of the death of my dear friend and colleague, Senator East, I paid my respects to a dear and cherished friend. I will not today repeat those remarks, other than to say that no Senator ever had a finer colleague than John East. So many vignettes come to mind at a time like this, when one reflects upon the personal relationship that we have with our colleagues in the Senate.
Mr. President, I have never known a man with more compassion than Senator East, nor have I known another statesman who was more dedicated to his country and its principles. I have been gratified that throughout the tapestry of editorial comment and statements by people who knew and admired and respected John East that this dedication was foremost in their minds. So it has been helpful at this difficult time that so many have spoken out about the Senator.
Mr. GOLDWATER. Mr. President, having served very closely with Senator John East on the Armed Services Committee, I got to know him a little better probably than most Senators who did not have that privilege. He was, indeed, a remarkable person, because I know that his days were filled with pain and his movements were not easily accomplished. He had a brilliant brain, a wonderful way of expressing himself, and he was a very, very fine, decent gentleman.
What, I think, will stay in my memory about John, are his everlasting efforts to be kind and good and understanding. These attributes are not found every day in everyone so we can say to him, thank you JOHN, you've been an example for all of us.
Mr. NICKLES. Mr. President, today we are pausing to recognize the life of our colleague and very good personal friend, Senator John East. On June 29 of this year, we were all shocked and I believe saddened to learn of Senator East's death.
John East was, by any definition, a very exceptional man. From his youth, he was a person who had to overcome many obstacles and many challenges, any one of which could have defeated or impaired most people. At the age of 24, he contracted polio while serving his country in the military. He went on, confined to a wheelchair, to earn his law degree, master's, and doctorate degrees in political science. He was an inspiring mentor to the students of East Carolina University.
Senator East and I were elected together in 1980 and it did not take long to begin serving with him to learn that he had a very exceptional mind, very keen intellect.
I really respected him because he had a commitment. He had a commitment on a lot of issues. He fought hard. He believed in what he said. He brought a lot of things to the floor of the Senate, I think, that we need to have brought to the floor of the Senate, that we need brought to public service, and that was a commitment to freedom, a commitment to personal freedom, a commitment to economic freedom, religious freedom.
He was a committed servant for the people of North Carolina and I think the people of this country. He certainly will be missed on the floor of the Senate. Very tragic in his death, but I think it reminds us that we are all frail and that we are all human. We will certainly miss the person, the man, the friend, the colleague, the Senator, JOHN East, and the commitment that he has brought to the U.S. Senate.
To the East family, to Sis and her daughters, we extend our sympathy, our compassion, our love, and our prayers. We pray that God will give them the comfort and the strength that they need in this most difficult of times.
Mr. DENTON. Without fanfare and without adequate public recognition, John East forged a monument of achievement amid handicap and adversity. That monument of example is finally receiving reverent acknowledgment today.
Most men can but owe much of their lifetime's success to their wives. JOHN was married to a lady of beauty and inner strength, who was his constant companion, whom my wife and I came to know as “Sis.” I am grateful that she is here this morning
As the former Priscilla Sherk, she met JOHN while they were both at Earlham College where JOHN pursued a B.A. in political science. While an undergraduate at Earlham College, JOHN played tackle on the football team and was a member of the debating team. John then joined the U.S. Marines where he served as a lieutenant.
Twenty-two days after being discharged from the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, John East contracted polio. But polio failed to stop him from leading a remarkably fruitful life. It seemed to accelerate him. He earned a law degree from the University of Illinois, practicing law in Florida for one year. He then earned his master's degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Florida before joining the faculty of East Carolina University in July 1984.
At East Carolina University, JOHN was a very popular professor where he taught political science with such enthusiasm that thousands of his students would go away with a new appreciation of American Government and that Government's priceless principles. He was a very, very popular professor. The great legacy of his teaching lies in the ideals that he instilled in so many young minds and hearts. Many of his students are now involved in government and politics in Washington and elsewhere and tell stories of how John cared as a professor and practiced with great zeal, taking the pains, the time, the personal attention with them to have lunch with them in his office, often to explain some point that they, as young students, had overlooked in their studies. The consistent message that John East brought to the classroom was the same that he brought to the Senate: serve, and in serving, apply moral courage reinforced by imagination and intellectual power.
I think not one of us in this body has taught moral courage by example more than John East. No one has been more involved in politics. He was active in politics as a youth. He served as the State Republican Party's national committeeman, was a delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention, where he served on the platform committee and then was reelected national committeeman in 1980 and 1984.
He twice received East Carolina's “Excellence in Teaching Award.” He was also an excellent political author. His doctoral dissertation, "Council Manager Government: The Political Thought of Its Founder, Richard S. Childs,” was published as a book by the University of North Carolina Press at Chapel Hill. JOHN also wrote a book that he finished just before his death that will be published this summer entitled, “The American Conservative Movement: The Philosophy Founders.” Its chapters, written with much care, were published over the years in the quarterly journal Modern Age.
As I mentioned, John, in the Senate, again demonstrated his moral courage as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I observed him in our meetings there. He was always a man you could count on to apply his judgment with integrity, expressed with eloquence and extraordinary courage. He did not bend with the winds of perceived popularity. He stood with what he believed to be right.
I also served with John East on the Armed Services Committee, chaired by the most distinguished chairman of that committee, who is now in the chair as presiding officer, Senator Goldwater. The chairman and I know that he was one of the strongest voices for providing a sound and effective defense for our country. JOHN could always be relied upon to resist the popular trend, the temptation to "bash the Pentagon,” of trying to balance the budget on the back of defense. He stood and voted for what he believed to be right, even when it was unpopular.
Mr. President, I cannot relate the deep levels of confiding which John blessed me with in private conversation, but I can say I was inspired and I am grateful.
Mr. President, I shall miss JOHN East in the Senate. His colleagues will miss him. His State will miss him and the country will miss him. I am not sure that any of those who will miss him realize how much at this point in time.
Mr. President, it is always sad when this body suffers the untimely loss of one of its Members. This case is no exception. But I am confident that John and his family would prefer that rather than mourning his absence, we remember him with pride and friendship. That is what I shall do, and I am sure that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will do so.
Mr. DODD. Mr. President, our normally happy return to Washington is marred by the knowledge that one of our colleagues, John P. East of North Carolina, will not return with us. John East was a scholar, a family man, and a dedicated public servant. His accomplishments seem all the more remarkable when we consider the disability he endured and overcame. We in the Senate are saddened by his passing, and I would like to extend my sympathy and condolences to his family and friends on this painful occasion.
In the 542 short years that I had the privilege of serving with John East in the Senate, I knew him to be a hard worker, a generous and compassionate man, and a unfailing advocate of his ideals. John East demanded so much from himself on a day-to-day basis in his dedication and commitment to public service.
JOHN East was a model of tirelessness and selflessness. By his example, he taught us that a person who is physically challenged, as he was by polio, can rise to that challenge by virtue of personal courage and fortitude. He also taught us about personal sacrifice for public service. Although I disagreed with him on many issues, I admired the Senator from North Carolina for his forthrightness and his persistence, and I only hope that I am as forceful an advocate for my ideals as he was for his. We will miss our colleague, the Honorable JOHN P. East of North Carolina.
Mr. DECONCINI. Mr. President, the death of Senator JOHN East has saddened me and left a void that will not be easily filled in this Chamber. John East was a man of great integrity and scholarship. He was a man of keen intellect who was equally at ease with a discussion of philosophy, trade policy, or agriculture. Many were the time when Senator East and I were