August 30, 2014

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Mourners pay respects to Gillmor

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Hundreds of mourners filed through the Rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse Tuesday to pay respects to U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor.

Gillmor, a Republican known for his quiet, low-key approach, spent four decades in politics, including nearly 20 years in Congress. He was found dead in his apartment in suburban Washington last week.

Gillmor’s closed, American flag-draped casket was flanked by Ohio National Guard Honor Guard members, flowers and two standing flags — one U.S. and one Ohio — in the middle of the Rotunda as mourners greeted family members.

Among those attending were Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, House Minority Leader John Boehner and other members of the Ohio congressional delegation.

Gillmor was a “very kind and gentle man,” said Judy Stalter of Columbus, who knew the congressman in the 1980s when she served as assistant clerk to the state Senate and he was Senate president.

“I have the highest respect for him,” said Stalter, who was joined at the statehouse Tuesday by husband Charles. “He will be really missed in the political scheme of things.”

A memorial service for Gillmor, 68, followed the viewing in the adjacent Atrium. Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat who served with Gillmor in the U.S. House for 12 years, was among those who spoke.

Gillmor’s family, members of Ohio’s congressional delegation, and Ohio lawmakers filled the Atrium for the service, while others who came to pay their respects gathered in the Rotunda. The service was projected on a screen so those who didn’t fit in the Atrium could watch.

Gillmor was elected to Congress in 1988 after serving in the Ohio Senate since 1967. He was Senate president from 1981-83 and 1985-89.

Gillmor joins a select list of people chosen to lie in state in the state Capitol. Only six other people, including President Abraham Lincoln, have lain in state in the Rotunda, the highest Statehouse honor. The first was arctic explorer Elisha Kent Kane in 1857, while the building was under construction. The last was four-term Gov. James A. Rhodes in 2001.

Calling hours for Gillmor will be held Wednesday in Tiffin, followed by a memorial service and private burial in his hometown of Old Fort. Gillmor is survived by his wife, Karen, and five children.

A medical examiner’s report released Friday in Virginia said Gillmor died of blunt head and neck trauma consistent with a fall down stairs. The death was certified as an accident.

Under Ohio law, Strickland must call a special election to replace Gillmor. No date has yet been set.