Lifetimes of public service

The coming departures of Congressman Ike Skelton and Senator Christopher Bond will be historic ends to distinguished careers in elective office. A few years ago, when term limits started taking their dreadful toll of experienced lawmakers, we started assembling a list of people who had long careers in elective office. Legislators, members of Congress, even Supreme Court Judges who used to be elected are on the list. We undoubtedly overlooked some people and our math might not be as good as it could be. But this is a list that demonstrates incredible commitment to public service and decades of trust by citizens who voted them into these positions.

Ike Skelton leaves the House of Representatives as the second-longest serving Congressman in Missouri history. His departure leaves Jo Ann Emerson, who began her career in congress after a special election in 1996. It will be 2030 before she equals Skelton’s tenure. It’s not nice to talk about a lady’s age so we won’t tell you how old she is now. But she’ll be 80 when she equals Skelton’s 34 years. Our next most-senior members of the United States House are Congressmen Graves, Clay, and Akin of the class of 2001.

Bond’s public elected career also comes to an end after 34 years. He served two years as state auditor, eight years as governor, and 24 years as a U. S. Senator. By comparison, Governor Nixon’s elected career in state service is reaching the quarter century mark. If he is elected to a second term as Governor and finishes that term, he will have served as a State Senator for six years, Attorney General for sixteen, and governor for eight–30 years. By the time he finishes that possible second term in January 2017, he will be just short of 61, still young enough to run for something else.

Our list does not reflect the totality of service for some of these people. Some of them might have served in the legislature before going on to Congress or to judgeships. We have not included that information (Skelton served six years in the Missouri Senate, for example, before going to the House and before that he was a county prosecutor).

So here’s our list of people who dedicated their lives to public service and whose constituents were often free to vote to let them continue in that service.

Legislators and elected supreme court judges (30 yrs+)

  • Michael Kinney, St. Louis–Senate 1913-68 56 years
  • Wayne Goode, Normandy–House 1963-84; Senate 85-2004 42 years
  • John Russell, Lebanon–House 1963-76; Senate 77-2004 42 years
  • Edgar J. Keating, House, Jackson County, 1932-1941, Senate 1945-72 38 years
  • Gene Copeland, New Madrid–House 1961-98 38 years
  • Michael E. Casey, Jackson County, House, 1903-1908; Senate 1909-1944 36 yrs.
  • John Schneider, Florissant–House 1969-70; Senate 71-2002 34 years
  • Richard M. Webster, Carthage, House, 1949-1952, 1953-54, Senate 1963-1990 34 yrs.
  • John Scott, St. Louis–House 1971-76; Senate 1976-2002 33 years
  • Joseph H. Brogan, Senator, 33rd district, 1909-1940 32 years.
  • William Hicks, Representative, Jackson County 1901-22; 1925-1934 32 years
  • A. Clifford Jones, Ladue, House 1951-1958, Senate 1965-88 32 years
  • Patrick J. Hickey, House, St. Ann, 1959-1974, 77-92 32 years
  • Robert Ellis Young, Carthage–House 1955-86 32 years
  • Supreme Court Judge C. A. Leedy Jr.–1933-1964 32 years
  • U.S. Senator Francis Cockrell–30 years
  • Supreme Court Judge Thomas Sherwood–1873-1902 30 years
  • Russell Goward, St. Louis–House 1967-96 30 years

Members of Congress from Missouri (20 yrs+)

  • 42–Clarence Cannon. 1923-1964 (died in office)
  • 34–Ike Skelton 1977-2010
  • 32–William L. Clay 1969-2000
  • 28–Richard Gephardt 1977-2004
  • –Senator Thomas Hart Benton–28 years (plus two years in the U. S. House)
  • 26–Champ Clark, 1893-4, 1897-1921 (died in office)
  • 25–Richard P. Bland 1873-95, 1897-99 (died in office)
  • 24–John J. Cochran 1925-46, 1949-50
  • 24–Milton Romjue 1917-20; 1923-42
  • 24-William W. Rucker 1899-1922
  • 24–Dewey Short 1929-30, 1935-56
  • 24–Leonor Sullivan 1953-1976
  • 24–Senator Christopher Bond 1987-2010
  • 23–Clement Dickinson 1909-20, 1923-28, 1931-35
  • 22–Richard Barthold 1893-1914
  • 20–L. C. Dyer 1911-12, 1915-1932
    • –Paul C. Jones 1949-68
    • –Frank Karsten 1947-48, 1951-68
    • –James T. Lloyd 1897-1916
    • –Dorsey Shackelford 1899-1918
    • –Harold Volkmer 1977-1996
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