Robert J. Dole


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Bob Dole has been called a “towering figure” and “the most enduring Republican leader of the twentieth century” but he still calls Russell, Kansas, his home. He was born Robert Joseph Dole on July 22, 1923, in Russell to Doran and Bina (Talbott) Dole. He grew up with two sisters, Gloria and Norma Jean and a brother, Kenny, in a small frame house north of the railroad tracks.  The same house that the whole family was raised in and the same house his parents lived out their final days.   

To support their family Doran operated the Dole Produce, just south of the railroad tracks, and his wife sold sewing machines door-to-door.  As a young school child Bob worked after school weighing cream in 10 and 20 gallon cans.  He counted and stacked egg crates that farmers brought to town on Saturday.  He learned to visit and listen to the people.  He had to remember names because most of the cans and egg cartons had no identifying marks on them.  To this day he does well with remembering names. 

 During the 1930’s the family pulled together to make ends meet. They moved to the basement and rented the main floor of their home.  The early 1920’s frame home was remodeled in 1945-46.  Bob still has family in Russell and when he and Elizabeth come to Russell they stay in the house, therefore, it is not open to the public, but visitors are invited to drive by and take advantage of a great photo opportunity.

When he is home you will find him enjoying a cold root beer (his favorite) at the local A & W Family Restaurant, visiting the rest home and just hanging out with friends and family. Neighbors and friends recall Bob Dole growing up as “an all-American Boy”.  He was an athlete, played end on the Russell football team, ran the 880 in track, and played basketball.  Along with his participation in sports, he found time to work nights and Saturdays at Dawson's Drug Store where he learned the art of meeting the public, one on one.  Growing up in the small town of Russell instilled respect for honesty, community service and patriotism.  

In 1942, at the age of 19, Bob Dole answered the call to serve his country by joining the Army to fight in World War II.  He became a second lieutenant in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, and in the spring of 1945, found himself in the hills of Italy fighting the Nazi Germans. After the battle, medics gave him a shot of morphine and marked his forehead with an “M” written in his own blood.  He wasn’t expected to survive. During his nearly four years of recovery, it was clear that he would never realize his boyhood dream of becoming a doctor, so he set a new goal –to study law and look for ways to give back to the people who had done so much for him during his four year recovery.  He earned his law degree from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas in 1952. 

He ran for state legislature and served one term.  He was elected and served four terms as Russell County Attorney and served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1968, Bob ran for the United States Senate and won.  He served as a Kansas Senator until 1996.  In 1971 Senator Dole rocketed to national prominence as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and in l976 President Gerald Ford announced on the Russell County Courthouse lawn that Bob would be his Vice Presidential running mate. 

 He was elected Senate Majority and Minority Leader several terms and was one of the longest serving Republican leaders.

 On June 11, 1996, he resigned from the US Senate to devote all of his time and energy to his campaign for President of the United States.  Also, campaigning for President was Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter.  It was the first time in American history that two men, graduating from the same high school would run for the nations highest leadership post. Bob offered a vision for America’s future that called for reining in the federal government, reconnecting government with traditional values of the American people, and restoring American prestige and supremacy abroad.  He lost the election to incumbent Bill Clinton.  On January 17, 1997 Senator Bob Dole was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony.  The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award of our Government.

Today, Senator Dole is senior advisor to the Washington, DC law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand.  He served as the National Chairman of the World War II Memorial Monument constructed and dedicated in Washington DC. He serves as the National Chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons in former Yugoslavia. 


 From foreign battlefields to the halls of Congress, Bob Dole has served his country with courage, dedication and grace. Overcoming his own adversity, he rose to become a champion for the disabled and America’s farmers, for preserving Social Security and promoting fiscal responsibility, and for strengthening our global leadership for freedom, peace and prosperity A man of the heartland, he bought common sense, uncommon skill and a prairie wit to the United States Senate, where he was the longest serving Republican leader in history.  Soldier, statesman and patriot, Bob Dole has created a record of achievement that will stand forever as tribute to the strengths and values that have made America great!


Bob Dole Time Line:

July 22, 1923, Robert Joseph Dole born in Russell, KS

Oct. 29, 1929, Stock Market Crash

May 1941, Graduated from Russell High School

Sept., 1941, Enrolled at K.U.

Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Bombed, U.S. entered World War II

Dec.1942, Enlisted in U.S. Army

1944 Attended Officers School

April 14, 1945 Injured at Po Valley in Italy

Aug.6, 1945 Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan

Sept. 2, 1945 World War II ends

1948, Discharged from the U.S. Army

June 1948, Marries Phyllis Holden

Sept. 1948 Enrolls at the University of Arizona

Sept. 1949 Enrolls at Washburn Municipal University

1950-1953 Korean War

Nov. 1950 Elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, first public election

May 1952 Receives Law Degree from Washburn Municipal University

Nov. 1952 Elected Russell County Attorney

Oct. 18, 1954 Daughter Robin was born

1953-1960 Russell County Attorney

Nov. 1960 Elected to the U.S. Congress in House of Representatives

1964- 1973 Vietnam War

1961-1968 Kansas Representative in U.S. House of Representatives

Nov. 1968 Elected U.S. Senator from Kansas

July 1969 Neil Armstrong walked on the moon

1971 Republican National Chairman

1972 Divorces wife Phyllis

1974 Re-elected U.S. Senator from Kansas

Dec. 1975 Marries Elizabeth Hanford

Aug. 1976 Became President Ford’s vice-presidential running mate

1979-1980 Mounts unsuccessful campaign for 1980 Republican Presidential nominee

Nov. 1980 Re-elected to the U.S. Senate from Kansas

1984 Elected Senate Majority leader

Nov.1986 Re-elected U. S. Senator from Kansas

1987-1988 Mount unsuccessful campaign for 1988 Republican Presidential nominee

1988 Elected Senate Minority leader

1989 Berlin Wall opened, Cold War ended

 Nov.1992 Re-elected U.S. Senator from Kansas

June 1996 Resigned from the U.S. Senate

Aug.1996 Republican Presidential Candidate

Nov. 1996 Lost the Presidential Election to President Bill Clinton

1997 Re-entered private law practice

July 22, 2003, Dedication of the Bob Dole Institute Of Politics, KU campus, Lawrence, Ks.