PA Mourns Passing of Former Governor Dick Thornburgh

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(The Center Square) – Former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh, who also served as U.S. Attorney General in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died Thursday at age 88.

The cause of Thornburgh’s death had not been released as of late Thursday afternoon.

A former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Thornburg ran for governor in 1978 as a Republican, defeating Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty on an anti-corruption platform. He ran again in 1982 and won a second term by defeating U.S. Rep. Allan Ertel.

Following the end of his second term, he was named lead the U.S. Justice Department in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan, a role that he continued during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Thornburgh stepped down from that role in 1991.

Current Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, praised Thornburgh in a news release upon word of his death, calling him an “unequaled public servant.”

“He guided Pennsylvania through a tumultuous period in our commonwealth’s history following the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station,” Wolf said. “His was a necessary and steady voice of calm in the midst of crisis.”

Thornburgh also earned praise from Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, the top Republican in that chamber. Corman noted that his late father, former state Sen. Doyle Corman, had served in the Legislature during Thornburgh’s time leading the commonwealth.

“Dick Thornburgh was an extraordinary man who dedicated his entire life to serving the public,” Corman said. “As governor, he worked tirelessly with people like my father to make our Commonwealth a better place to live, providing a steady calm even in a time of crisis. His legacy of leadership has been a shining example for many including me. He was a man of character who led with decency and integrity who will be missed.”

Current Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, was also among those offering praise of the former governor.

“Rest in peace, governor,” Shapiro wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for your service to our Commonwealth and your example of leadership.”

“He led Pennsylvania and later, the Department of Justice successfully and with integrity.,” U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, said in a statement on Facebook. “The steady nature in which he guided Pennsylvania through one of its most dangerous crises – the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island – should serve as an example for all elected officials.”

Regional Editor

Delphine Luneau is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience. She was the editor of Suburban Life Media when its flagship was named best weekly in Illinois, and she has worked at papers in South Carolina, Indiana, Idaho and New York.