LONGTIME POLITICAL ALLY BOB DAVIS PASSES.

News this morning that former US Congressman Bob Davis has died at the age of 77.   The U.P. native served in Lansing and Washington, D.C. representing the U.P. and Northern Lower Michigan for years.  Here is the statement announcing his passing:

Former Rep. Bob Davis dies

FORMER CONGRESSMAN BOB DAVIS AND FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN AT THE WHITE HOUSE.

FORMER CONGRESSMAN BOB DAVIS AND FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN AT THE WHITE HOUSE.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Michigan Congressman Bob Davis, who represented the U.P. and Northern Michigan in Congress from 1979 – 1993, died today.  He was 77.

Church bells throughout the U.P. village of Calumet rang today in honor of Davis’ passing.  They were the same church bells that rang almost exactly 17 years ago when Davis, in his last act in Congress, steered through passage of legislation to create the Keweenaw National Historical Park, a part of the National Park Service, in Michigan’s Copper Country.

First elected to the Michigan State House in 1966, the popular lawmaker won 11 consecutive races before retiring in 1993.  He served seven terms in Congress, two terms in the Michigan House of Representatives (1966 – 1970) and two terms in the Michigan State Senate (1970 – 1978).  He was the Michigan Senate Republican leader from 1974 – 1978.

One of his greatest accomplishments occurred early in his quarter century-plus career in public service.  In 1968, he teamed with then-Governor George Romney to write legislation to reduce the tolls on the Mackinac Bridge from the then $7.50 per round trip for autos.  Davis’ amendment dropped the toll to $1.50 each way.   Immediately after the reduced toll went into effect on Jan. 1, 1969, traffic levels surged on the Bridge that provided and continues to provide a critical economic link between the two peninsulas.

In Congress, he served as the top Republican on the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, which oversaw federal policy related to the Great Lakes.  He championed the process that led to the establishment of the first National Marine Sanctuary on the Great Lakes, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary near Alpena.  He successfully prevented repeated efforts by the Coast Guard to decommission the MACKINAW, a powerful icebreaker based in Cheboygan, the loss of which would have left the Great Lakes with insufficient icebreaking capacity.

Davis represented a sprawling Congressional District, one of the largest in the nation, that extended from Ironwood on the western U.P. to cities well into Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.  He was known for his extensive constituent service operation with 9 district offices and a team of staffers who traveled the District with Davis to solve problems like lost social security checks.

A moderate Republican, he was known for his wide range of friends and colleagues on both sides of the political aisle.

Davis was born in Marquette but attended school and worked in St. Ignace.  He was a community leader in St. Ignace, where the post office is named in his honor, and where he owned and operated a funeral home with his father.  He lived in Gaylord for much of his time in Congress.

Davis retired from Congress in 1993.  Since then he had lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., traveling back to Michigan regularly.  He is survived by his wife Brook and five children – Rob, Lisa, George, Alexandra and Hannah.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Bob Davis Fund at Northern Michigan University, which he attended.

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