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John Dingell Sr.

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John David Dingell Sr. (February 2, 1894 – September 19, 1955) was an American politician who represented Michigan's 15th congressional district from 1933 to 1955. He was a member of the Democratic Party. He was the father of the longest-serving member of Congress, former U.S. Representative John Dingell.

John D. Dingell
John D. Dingell, Sr..gif
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 15th district
In office
March 4, 1933 – September 19, 1955
Preceded byDistrict established
Succeeded byJohn Dingell
Personal details
John David Dingell

(1894-02-02)February 2, 1894
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
DiedSeptember 19, 1955(1955-09-19) (aged 61)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Grace Blossom Bigler
RelativesJohn D. Dingell Jr. (son)
ResidenceDearborn, Michigan

Life and careerEdit

Dingell was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Marie Ciesielski Opalewska and Joseph A. Dzieglewicz, who were Polish immigrants.[1] The family's surname, roughly meaning 'blacksmith', ended up being anglicized to 'Dingell'. He worked as a newsboy, printer and newspaperman. He had also engaged in the construction of natural gas pipelines, was a wholesale dealer in beef and pork products and an organizer and trustee of Colorado Springs Labor College.

Dingell married Grace Blossom Bigler (1894–1962) and had four children: John Jr., Patricia Ann[2], James, and Julè. Patricia Ann, known as Patsy, died shortly after her first birthday[3]. Dingell settled his family in Detroit, where he worked as a printer at the Detroit Free Press, helping to organize a union. Dingell suffered from asthma and tuberculosis, a disease that took the family to Colorado for a time, in hopes of a cure. There, John Jr. was born in 1926.[4] (See Tuberculosis treatment in Colorado Springs).

Following the 1930 U.S. Census, Michigan gained four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1932, Dingell was elected as a Democrat from the newly formed 15th District in western Detroit. He was reelected eleven times and served until his death at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., at the age of 61. He is interred at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.

At the outset of his Congressional career, Dingell was a "New Deal stalwart."[5] Reflecting the prevailing prejudices of the period, a memorable letter from Dingell to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 18, 1941, suggested that ten thousand Japanese-Hawaiian Americans be incarcerated in order to ensure "good behavior" from Japan.[6] Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Dingell "demanded that [Admiral Husband] Kimmel and [General Walter] Short be court-martialed."[5]

After the September 19, 1955, death of the elder John Dingell, a special election called to fill the remainder of Dingell's term was won by his son, John Jr., who took his father's place in Congress on December 13, 1955.

In January 1995, John Dingell Jr. became the Dean, or the longest-serving member, of the House and swore in Newt Gingrich as Speaker. John Dingell Jr. retired from the House of Representatives as the longest-serving member of Congress in history at 59 years and 21 days and its longest serving Dean at 20 years on January 3, 2015, and his wife Debbie Dingell was elected to succeed him. As of 2019, the three Dingells had represented the southeastern Michigan area for 86 consecutive years.

A hallmark of their service has been a proposal for a national health insurance system, first introduced by John Sr. in 1933 and re-introduced since at every Congress by the father and then the son.

Dingell's grandson, Christopher D. Dingell, has also taken to politics, having been elected to the Michigan State Senate in 1986.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Dingell, John (2018). The Dean: The Best Seat in the House. New York: HarperCollins. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-06-257199-1.
  3. ^ The Dean, page 64
  4. ^ Detroit Free Press, 5.16.82; Congressman John D. Dingell
  5. ^ a b Flynn, John. The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor (October 1945)
  6. ^ "Chronology of World War II Incarceration".

External linksEdit