WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – Current and former Delaware politicians, family and friends of Pierre S. “Pete” du Pont IV, remember the late governor, member of the American House and presidential candidate for economic recovery, who worked across the side spirit.
Friday’s memorial service at the Wilmington Theater took place nearly a year after du Pont died in May 2021 at the age of 86 after a long illness. Security concerns over COVID-19 have delayed the commemoration so far, news reports said.
“As Pete understood, our political opponents can and should be friends,” conservative columnist George Will, a longtime friend of Du Pont, said in his eulogy. “Pete did it right and had fun all the way.”
A member of a wealthy family known for owning chemical companies, du Pont broke away from the business world into law and republican politics. After one term in the House of State and three terms in Congress, du Pont was elected governor in 1976 and began working to restore the country’s financial stability.
Du Pont has established successful relationships with lawmakers on both sides to tackle prison overcrowding, corruption and desegregation of schools. He was re-elected in 1980 when he was convincingly elected. His second term was marked by groundbreaking legislation he signed that eased Delaware’s banking laws, making the state attractive to some of the country’s largest credit card companies.
The state economy is “built on the decisions of the Governor du Ponta,” current Governor John Carney, a Democrat, said during the service.
“He set a new standard for how we treat each other in this state,” Carney added. “And that changed our expectations of ourselves.”
In 1986, Du Pont announced what the long-running presidential offer had become. He tried to separate himself from the more well-known candidates with doubts about the social programs that his rivals were afraid to address. He retired in early 1988 after poor performances in the Iowa election and New Hampshire primary.
Du Pont’s four children shared memories, especially his humor. His son Ben recalled wondering why his father started bowling: “He said, ‘I made more friends and gained more votes than anything else I did.'”
“He could make anyone laugh and it was just a gift,” his widow Elise added in a clip shown on the big screen.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and former Gov. Mike Castle also attended Friday’s service, which ended with the singing of “God Bless America.” The version is played before every home game for the Philadelphia Flyers – du Ponto’s favorite team. The longtime singer of the Flyers anthem led the song in a pre-recorded video.
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