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Fla's first Republican gov since Reconstruction dies at 85

By James Call

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-988261.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Former Gov. Claude Kirk, the first Republican to become governor since Reconstruction when he was elected in 1966 passed away Wednesday at his home in West Palm Beach. Kirk was 85. He served one term from 1967 to 1971. James Call has more the career of Florida's 36th Governor.

Governor Claude Kirk's time in office was marked by a teacher strike,reorganization of state government and intense fights with the Legislature. Often combative he also had a wit and once asked to be buried at the Capitol so he could keep an eye on politicians.

Kirk's commitment to protecting the environment survived his political career. Four years ago at a Lou Frey Institute's seminar with former governors he suggested Florida was running out of fresh water.

"Those other governors that have talked to you already they would love too but they can't do anything about it. They don't have office. They don't have anything. I can't do anything about it except to keep shouting. And that is why I am shouting to you."

Kirk was a World War Two veteran, serving with the Marines. He is survived by his wife Erika, seven children, 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. In a statement the family said information on funeral services will be forthcoming.