Ohio Leaders Honor Former Gov. John Gilligan

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UPDATED: Thursday September 5, 2013 7:01 PM

Some of Ohio's top politicians gathered at the statehouse on Thursday to say farewell to former Gov. John Gilligan.

"John J. Gilligan lived a life of purpose," said Columbus mayor Michael Coleman.  "That by giving of yourself to the cause of others is not an easy path but a better one."

Gov. John Kasich attended the statehouse event, along with former governors Ted Strickland and Dick Celeste.

Gilligan served one term as governor in the early 1970s.

Ohio was in financial trouble when he took office.  As a solution, he convinced lawmakers to enact the personal and corporate income tax to help fund programs.

An avid environmentalist, he also steered the creation of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

"To me his greatest successes and accomplishments were to move Ohio away from the frankly embarrassing position of ranking near the bottom of in so much that mattered," said Senator Sherrod Brown.

Brown says in 2005, when he was considering running against incumbent Mike DeWine for the US senate, Gilligan told him not to try to become more of a moderate.

"He leaned forward, looked me in the eye and said, 'Be yourself, don't move to the center, run as a Progressive,'" said Brown.  "His advice has stayed with me for the last seven years."

Gilligan's children also took up many of his public causes.

His daughter, Kathleen Seibulus is now a member of the Obama cabinet.

"Our father was a gifted speaker.  With few notes on a napkin he could educate, motivate, activate a crowd," said Seibulus. "He felt you should never over estimate what people know and understand, but never under estimate their willingness to make good choices."

Besides her role as Secretary Health and Human Services, Seibulus is a former governor of Kansas. She is the only daughter of a state governor to also win the office.

In a statement, President Obama said Gilligan was a man who "lived his life in the service to his fellow Americans.  During World War II, he earned a Silver Star for his bravery at Okinawa and he never stopped serving his country as a Congressman, where he helped enact historic legislation from the Voting Rights Act to Medicare and Medicaid, and then as governor of Ohio."

Speaker John Boehner, a Cincinnati Republican, said in a statement, "Governor Gilligan served our state with passion and was a committed public servant."

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