Honoring John D. Dingell, Jr.
(1926 - 2019)
A Conservation Hero
Former US representative John D. Dingell, Jr. passed away February 7, 2019. He spent his career taking care of people and wildlife. He envisioned natural areas that were protected for all to enjoy and thrive in. He envisioned places where they could forever connect and recharge, leading them to become advocates and stewards for their perpetual care. He was often heard to say, "We do not inherit this earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."
John D. Dingell, Jr. served Michigan and the United States in Congress for a record 59 years, from the time he succeeded his father in 1955 until his retirement in 2015. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, from President Barack Obama in 2014. In announcing the award, the White House called Dingell "one of the most influential legislators in history." Following his retirement, Michigan's voters chose his wife Debbie to fill his seat in Congress.
During his tenure, Dingell was a champion of a wide range of environmental and conservation causes, including the Clean Air, Clean Water, and National Environmental Policy acts. He was a stalwart supporter of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and helped create the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in 2001. Former Refuge manager John Hartig noted, "Dingell’s passion for conservation of natural resources and outdoor recreation, keen legislative skills, and unwavering support for public service were key factors that made him so successful."
This was the vision and passion that he brought when he helped with the creation of the Refuge. It became a place where he would come to find his calm, his sanctuary; the place where he could find peace from the stress of Capitol Hill.
The Refuge's new visitor center will bear Dingell's name, and the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance friends group honors his legacy with an annual award.