Former Alaska Senator, Springfield native Mike Gravel dies at 91

Hampden County

FILE – Former Democratic U.S. senator Mike Gravel gestures while talking to “Occupy” activists at Lindenhof square in Zurich, Switzerland, in this Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, file photo. Gravel, a former U.S. senator from Alaska who read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and confronted Barack Obama about nuclear weapons during a later presidential run, has died. He was 91. Gravel, who represented Alaska as a Democrat in the Senate from 1969 to 1981, died Saturday, June 26, 2021. Gravel had been living in Seaside, California, and was in failing health, said Theodore W. Johnson, a former aide. (AP Photo/Keystone, Steffen Schmidt, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Springfield native, who rose to prominence in the U.S. Senate, has passed away.

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who was born and raised in Springfield, has died at the age of 91. Senator Gravel’s parents emigrated from Quebec, and like so many French Canadians, found a new life in western Massachusetts.

Congressman Richard Neal mourned the loss of the former Senator. “Like many Americans, including scores from the Pioneer Valley, we mourn the loss of this dedicated public servant. He will be missed,” Congressman Neal said.

During his 12 years in the Senate, he led a one-man filibuster protesting the Vietnam era draft. His opposition to the war was highlighted by reading four thousand pages of the Pentagon papers into the Congressional record. Twice the Springfield native tried but failed to win the Democratic nomination in the race for President. He had spent his boyhood in Springfield and was a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.

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