Videos & Speeches

Madam President, I woke up this morning in Kansas with some sad news. One of our State legislators, Bob Bethell, a 13-year member of the Kansas House of Representatives, died in a car wreck late last night. The Kansas legislature has had a difficult session and finally concluded, I believe after 100 days of the legislative session, this year's work in Topeka, and one of our central Kansas legislators on the drive home from Topeka back to Alden, KS, was involved in a one-car accident, a fatality.

I rise tonight to pay respect to my friend and former colleague Bob Bethell, and express my respect and gratitude for his public service, and my care and concern, in fact my love, for his wife Lorene and their family and friends.

Bob Bethell was, I suppose you could call him, a great politician in the sense that his constituents loved and admired him. They respected him. They cared about him. He could be called a great politician because in Topeka he was someone whose voice was listened to. But nothing about Bob Bethell really was a politician.

Bob Bethell was a person who was a Baptist minister in his small hometown. He loved God greatly.  It was the focus of his life. He loved the people God created in his community and across Kansas  and in fact became the administrator of a nursing home because of his care for senior citizens. It was that extension of his care for seniors that caused him to want to serve in the legislature. To extend that opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people he cared for in his profession with public policy decisions that were important to them and their future and their families in Topeka, KS.

Again, I would say there is nothing political about Bob Bethell. He was respected and someone everybody enjoyed being around, but it wasn't because he as a politician calculated what the right answer was or how to get along with people or took a poll to discover what the issues were that people supported; it was just that Bob Bethell, in his love of God, had a love of human beings, of citizens of Kansas. So you  would see Bob Bethell with a smile on his face at every parade, at every community meeting.

He was somebody that, I think sometimes in our lives, as elected official, you may see people  walk across the street sometimes to avoid the political conversation. But, again, there was nothing political about Bob; he just was a guy who cared about people and it showed and people enjoyed being around people; loved the conversation. He worked hard at being a constituent-service-oriented member in the Kansas House of Representatives. It is so sad for us to lose such a person.

I hope Lorene and family and friends in Alden find comfort in the belief that God will care for Bob Bethell in the life hereafter. They believe that in their lives. They demonstrated that to the people across Kansas, and their focus was a love of others.  It’s a role model for all of us to make certain that we focus on the things that really matter--not the public opinion polls not the calculation of how to get along with people, but the idea that we in public service are given an opportunity to make a great difference in the lives of others, and it ought to be that motivating factor, the one that Bob Bethell exhibited throughout his life, that we should exemplify.

So Robba and I--my wife and I--extend our greatest sympathies and care and concern to the people across Kansas, but especially to the family and the folks who knew Bob so well in his home district, the 113th House Representative District of Kansas. Our prayers and thoughts are extended to them, and we praise God for the life well lived of one of His servants, Bob Bethell.

I yield the floor.