Gov. Dick Thornburg: Former Governor died New Year’s Eve


Former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh, 88, died of natural causes on New Year’s Eve at a private nursing home in Oakmont outside of Pittsburgh.

Former governor died
Richard Lewis Thornburgh

Thornburgh, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, ran for governor in 1978 as a Republican. He defeated Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty on an anti-corruption platform. He ran again in 1982 and won a second term by defeating U.S. Rep. Allan Ertel.

Following the end of his second term, he was tapped to lead the U.S. Justice Department as Attorney General in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. It was a role that he continued during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Thornburgh stepped down from that role in 1991.

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Current Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, praised Thornburgh in a news release upon word of his death, calling him an “unequaled public servant.”

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“He guided Pennsylvania through a tumultuous period in our commonwealth’s history following the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station,” Wolf said. “His was a necessary and steady voice of calm in the midst of crisis.”

Thornburgh also earned praise from Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, the top Republican in that chamber. Corman noted that his late father, former state Sen. Doyle Corman, had served in the Legislature during Thornburgh’s time leading the commonwealth.

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‘Extraordinary man, dedicated public servant’

“Dick Thornburgh was an extraordinary man who dedicated his entire life to serving the public,” Corman said. “As governor, he worked tirelessly with people like my father to make our Commonwealth a better place to live; providing a steady calm even in a time of crisis. His legacy of leadership has been a shining example for many including me. He was a man of character who led with decency and integrity who will be missed.”

Current Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, was also among those offering praise of the former governor.

“Rest in peace, governor,” Shapiro wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for your service to our Commonwealth and your example of leadership.”

“He led Pennsylvania and later, the Department of Justice successfully and with integrity.,” U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, said in a statement on Facebook. “The steady nature in which he guided Pennsylvania through one of its most dangerous crises – the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island – should serve as an example for all elected officials.”

His obituary is posted on the John A. Freyvogel Sons Funeral Home website.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh; or the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy at the University of Pittsburgh.

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