Legislature Pauses To Honor Askew's Memory

Mar 18, 2014

Governor Reubin Askew's official portrait.
Credit State of Florida

A series of events paying tribute to late governor Reubin Askew begins in Tallahassee Tuesday.

It’s fitting the late governor’s body will lie in state in the historic Florida Capitol starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Askew was the state’s chief executive when the state inaugurated its current capitol complex and presided over the ceremony. Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville), who counted Askew as a personal friend, says he and other leaders were moved to change the legislative calendar to accommodate Tuesday’s remembrance.

“The Florida Legislature has decided to pause in our regular business to allow the leaders of our state to be present when Gov. Askew’s body comes to the old capitol tomorrow to lie in state,” Gaetz says.

Legislative business will also be suspended around noon Tuesday to give lawmakers another chance to walk across the courtyard to the Historic Capitol. Gaetz says he’ll take additional time at the end of the week to offer one final gesture to his late friend.

“And then on Friday, I plan to leave Tallahassee and accompany Gov. Askew’s body to Pensacola, where he will be laid to rest.”

But there’s one question surrounding Tuesday’s paying of respects -- is Askew’s coffin lying in state or lying in repose? To lie in state, a body usually must reside in the primary building a government uses. But since the Historic Capitol is now a museum, Askew’s body might technically be said to lie in repose.  It’s an interesting language lesson to be considered as lawmakers and the public alike pay their last respects -- which may be just as the governor-turned-college professor would have wanted it.