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John Culver
United States Senator
from Iowa

In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Harold Hughes
Succeeded by Chuck Grassley
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by James E. Bromwell
Succeeded by Mike Blouin
Personal details
Born John Chester Culver
(1932-08-08)August 8, 1932
Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.
Died December 27, 2018(2018-12-27) (aged 86)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ann Cooper (Divorced)
Mary Jane Checchi
Children 5, including Chet Culver
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1955–1958

John Chester Culver (August 8, 1932 – December 27, 2018) was an American politician, writer and lawyer who represented Iowa in both the United States House of Representatives from 1965 to 1975 and the United States Senate from 1975 to 1981. He was a member of the Democratic Party and was the father of Chet Culver, who served as the 41st Governor of Iowa.

Early life and education[edit | edit source]

Culver was born in Rochester, Minnesota, the son of Mary C. (Miller) and William C. Culver. He moved with his family to Cedar Rapids, Iowa as a child.

Culver was a graduate of both Harvard University and Harvard Law School. As an undergraduate, Culver played fullback on the Harvard football team with the future Senator Edward Kennedy. He was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in the 27th round of the 1954 NFL Draft.[1] Rather than try out for professional football, he attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge University as the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar. After his return, he served as a captain in the United States Marine Corps from 1955 to 1958. Culver was inducted into the Harvard Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

Career[edit | edit source]

He worked as a legislative assistant for Senator Edward Kennedy in 1962 and began his law practice in Iowa a year later. In 1964, he ran against Republican Rep. James E. Bromwell. With President Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory, Democrats, including Culver were carried to victory.[2]

In 1974, Culver ran for the U.S. Senate, defeating Davis Stanley for the seat left open by the retirement of Harold E. Hughes with 50.02% of the vote. Culver served one term in the Senate, from 1975 until 1981. With Ronald Reagan's national victory, Culver was defeated in 1980 by Chuck Grassley. Culver took 45.5% of the vote to Grassley's 53.5%.[2]

In 2000, Culver co-authored American Dreamer, the first comprehensive biography of Henry A. Wallace.

At the time of his death Culver had recently retired from the firm of Arent Fox in Washington, D.C., where he established the government affairs practice.[3] He lived in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Mary Jane Checchi.

Culver was a featured speaker at the August 28, 2009 memorial service for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, speaking as his Harvard classmate and teammate, his colleague for a time in the Senate, and his longtime friend.[4]

Until January 31, 2011, Culver was the interim director of the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University,[5] being replaced on that date by former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, with Culver remaining on the board of advisers as director emeritus.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Culver with Tom Harkin in 2010

John Culver had five children — Chet (the Governor of Iowa from 2007 to 2011), John, Christina, Cathy, and Rebecca Scoggin. Culver died on December 27, 2018 in Washington, D.C.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

  • J at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • The John Culver Papers are housed at the University of Iowa Special Collections & University Archives.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James E. Bromwell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Mike Blouin
Party political offices
Preceded by
Harold Hughes
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Iowa
(Class 1)

1974, 1980
Succeeded by
John Roehrick
United States Senate
Preceded by
Harold Hughes
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Iowa
Served alongside: Dick Clark, Roger Jepsen
Succeeded by
Chuck Grassley

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