Representative Tom Lantos dies

Posted by on Mon, February 11, 2008

Representative Tom Lantos died today at the age of 80, reports the Chronicle.

Rep. Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress and for 27 years a champion of human rights as representative for a district stretching from San Francisco’s west side to San Carlos, died today of complications from esophageal cancer, his office said. He was 80.

The San Mateo Democrat was diagnosed with cancer in December but waited a month before revealing he was ill. He died this morning at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland, a spokeswoman said.

Before he was diagnosed, Lantos was making plans to run in November for his 15th House term. Just last year, he joked he was "in the mid-point of his career," and until recently swam at 5:30 a.m. every day in the House pool.

Lantos represents the Midcoast much of norther San Mateo County.

Comment 1
Mon, February 11, 2008 11:34am
Cheri Parr
All my comments

I’d just like to say what a pleasure it was to have met Congressman Lantos.  I had the opportunity to take a number of tours on the coast, most recently of the tunnel site, with Mr. Lantos and his wife Annette.  I was on site to take photos of the tour, and Mr. Lantos took the time to talk with me, ask my thoughts on the project and what it meant to the residents of the coast.  In my experience he was kind and deferential to everyone,; staff, Caltrans workers, local residents and small time photographers alike.  My heart goes out to his family, especially Annette who traveled with him frequently, and who he so clearly loved.

Comment 2
Mon, February 11, 2008 6:12pm
Kevin Barron
All my comments

Growing up here, he was pretty much the only “regular” thing in local politics… mayors, state senators, US senators, etc…  Term limits aside, would be good to see a summation of what exactly he did for almost 30 years for his district.

Comment 3
Sun, February 17, 2008 3:49pm
David Lee
All my comments

Well, Kevin, you can start with BART to the airport and Devil’s Slide—two big ticket items, and ones in which Tom was able to secure funding in both Democratic and Republican-controlled Congresses alike. 

Of course, you also can’t forget multiple expansions of GGNRA (most recently Rancho Corral de Tierra), which Tom pushed through the House.  He was a huge supporter of environmental protection throughout San Mateo County—and around the country, as evidenced by his 100% ratings from the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters.

We can go on and on with projects and local initiatives—Tom knew how to work the system to make sure we got our fair share. . . .

But the real Lantos legacy is what he did outside the Bay Area.  By starting the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and championing core freedoms around the world, Tom fought for our VALUES as well as our INTERESTS.  He authored legislation to provide funding for HIV/AIDS medicines in Africa; increased sanctions against the Burmese military dictatorship; backed debt relief for struggling third-world nations; spoke out against the Bush/Clinton Administrations for their inaction in Bosnia during the early ‘90s; and became the #1 foe of abusive dictatorships around the world. 

Tom’s legacy looms large.  He cannot be replaced, and he will be greatly missed.

Comment 4
Sun, February 17, 2008 5:45pm
Carl May
All my comments

Few will generate for public consumption a list of negatives at the time of a popular person’s death. That is considered insensitive to those who are mourning on a personal level and unseemly. Just as unseemly is to use the emotion and sympathy immediately surrounding a death to further a political agenda supposedly connected to the deceased.

Rational appraisals and debates require clear air.

Carl May