Sad Goodbye to Arlen Specter

Hundreds Gather at Service for Iconic Moderate Voice

getty images

By Reuters

Published October 17, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

More than 1,000 people bid farewell on Tuesday to former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter at a service featuring tributes by family and dignitaries and concluding with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

Specter died at his Philadelphia home on Sunday after battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 82.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell were among the mourners.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at federal installations and facilities across the nation.

“Arlen Specter was an elected official in Pennsylvania for 38 years and I can say without any fear of contradiction, he had more of a positive effect on the lives of Pennsylvanians than anyone in the history of the commonwealth, with the possible exception of Ben Franklin,” Rendell said. “I don’t say that lightly.”

Specter served two terms as Philadelphia district attorney, from 1966 to 1974, and 30 years as a U.S. senator.

He played a pivotal role in many major issues of his time, including the investigation into the assassination of President John Kennedy, disputes over controversial Supreme Court nominees and the Senate vote not to remove President Bill Clinton from office for perjury after an affair.

An independent-minded moderate, Specter was spurned by Pennsylvania voters after switching in 2009 from Republican to Democrat. He explained the move by saying the Republican Party had become too conservative

Biden, a former U.S. senator from Delaware, recalled knowing Specter for decades in the Senate.

“I was Arlen’s friend,” he said. Turning to Specter’s family in the front row of the sanctuary, he said: “Your father was a great man.”

Sinatra’s iconic tune was played as the flag-draped mahogany casket was wheeled to a hearse.

“He is survived by our memory of his will,” his son Shanin, a lawyer like his father, told the congregation at Har Zion Temple in the leafy suburb of Lower Merion.

“‘Never give in’ was Arlen Specter’s mantra,” he said. “He was the patron saint of lost causes.”

The service was followed by an 87-car procession to a Philadelphia-area cemetery.

“He was the fairest boss I ever had,” said Erin Buechel Wieczorek, 34, of Washington, a former Senate aide who arrived at the funeral with her 7-week-old son. “I loved working for him.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.