Former longtime Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87

Lauren Schneiderman

Former Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a 36-year veteran of the Senate and a key voice on military issues, has died at the age of 87.

The Levin Center at Wayne State University in Detroit announced the late senator’s death Thursday evening, calling him “a dearly beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle, and life-long public servant.”

“For those who were lucky enough to be a part of his early work in Detroit, his decades in the Senate, and beyond, he was an inspirational leader and so much more,” the statement said.

“He will be remembered for his relentless intellect and work ethic, his humility, his humor, and his strength of character,” it added.

Levin, the longest-serving senator in Michigan history, retired in 2015 after more than three decades in the chamber.

The longtime senator’s death sparked an outpouring of condolences from former colleagues.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who succeeded Levin starting in 2015, said on Twitter that the senator was “one of the finest leaders to have ever served the State of Michigan and our country.” 

“He was not only a mentor – he was a personal friend — who will be missed deeply,” Peters said. 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) called Levin a “champion for truth and justice and a tireless advocate for the people of Michigan.”

“Senator Levin was also my friend, and it was truly an honor to represent Michigan alongside him for 14 of the 36 years that he served in the Senate,” Stabenow added in a statement.

Levin was born on June 28, 1934 in Detroit. Wayne Law highlighted his time as a student activist, a defense attorney and a member of the Detroit City Council.

He began serving in the Senate in 1979, and his decorated career includes time as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

But Wayne Law remembered Levin’s legacy across “every corner in Michigan.”

“Including the preservation of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Upper Peninsula’s mining and maritime history; cleaner Great Lakes and Michigan streams; a beautiful Detroit Riverwalk; and an American auto industry that is stronger for his tireless support,” the Levin Center said.

After the senator retired, he returned to Michigan and took a senior counsel role at the law firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP and also taught at Wayne Law.

In his memoir, “Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate,” Levin disclosed that he was diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago, The Detroit Free Press reported

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Thursday hailed Levin’s time in the Senate, saying his tenure was marked by “a tireless commitment to our auto industry, Great Lakes, and men and women in uniform.” 

Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) thanked Levin for his “service to our state and this nation.” 

Tags Carl Levin Debbie Stabenow Gary Peters Gretchen Whitmer Peter Meijer
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