A tribute to Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas

After 40 years of service in the federal government, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is hanging up his legislative hat.

Journalism and politics runs in the family for Republican Pat Roberts. He got his start in Washington as a Senate staffer.

“I didn’t ever expect for the trail of life to lead to the Senate of the United States; I was in the House first,” Roberts states. “Well, first I was an employee of Senator Carlson and then chief of staff for a Congressman named Keith Sebelius, and ran for that seat and was in the House for 16 years, ran for Senate. The rest is history.”

He followed in the footsteps of his father, Wes Roberts, a former Republican National Committee Chair who inspired one of the Senator’s most important projects.

“With the final dedication of the Dwight David Eisenhower Memorial at the end of my Senate career, it is a full family circle accomplishment,” he states. “If my dad helped elect Ike, the least I could do was lead the effort to make a memorial on the Mall to a great President and general a reality.”

Like his father, Sen Roberts served in the United States Marine Corp, an experience that continues to guide his life.

“Marines never give up, we take the hill, and the discipline and focus I learned in the Marine Corp never failed me in my toughest battles here in the Senate,” he noted during a floor speech.

He has held six committee gavels in the House and Senate, and is the only person to chair both the Senate and House Ag Committees. He worked on eight Farm Bills during his career. The latest one earned a record 87 bipartisan votes, thanks in part to his longtime partnership with Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow.

“We had to get a Farm Bill done and that takes precedence over everything whether that’s my politics, her politics, left right, whatever you want to say... We don’t vote alike on the floor on many occasions, but we did agree that we had to get a Farm Bill done and in doing that you get to know somebody, you get to like somebody, and she is a friend,” he notes.

Stabenow shared a collage of pictures from their time together during the last Senate Ag Committee hearing of his career: “From showing you around Michigan, to marking up the bipartisan Farm Bills, it’s always been an honor to be your partner on the committee, as well as your friend.”

She also presented Roberts with the chairman’s gavel.

“Looking back on all we’ve accomplished, I know your legacy will live on through the world you have written into law and the relationships you’ve built,” Stabenow states.

One of those relationships transcends politics. Roberts met his wife, Frankie, in Washington when they worked in offices just across the hall from each other.

“She was from the south, she was from South Carolina, and was working for Strom Thurman. That really goes back, and we just celebrated our 51st anniversary. Three youngsters and seven grandkids.”

The pair is well loved by their friends and colleagues.

According to Representative Roger Marshall, “Though Sen. Roberts will always be known for his wit, being an entertaining speaker and a great interview, his action, his accomplishments will always speak louder than any of his words. Him and Frankie have been tremendous ambassadors for agriculture, for Kansas, and for America.”

As he closed out his farewell remarks on the Senate floor, Sen. Roberts paid tribute to his Kansas roots.

“The entire country could use a little bit of what we say in Kansas, ‘Ad Astra per Aspera, to the stars through difficulties,’” he adds. “So as my time in the Senate draws to a close, I’ve done my best to improve the lives of Kansans and all Americans.”


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