Carl Levin, former US senator from Michigan, dead at 87

Carl Levin, who served as a U.S. senator from Michigan for 36 years, died Thursday, the Levin Center at Wayne State University announced. He was 87.

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In a tweet, the Levin Center described the former U.S. senator as “a dearly beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle, and life-long public servant.”

Levin disclosed in his recently published memoir, “Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate,” that he was diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Carl Milton Levin was born in Detroit on June 28, 1934. He served on the Detroit City Council from 1968 to 1977, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.

A liberal Democrat, Levin became Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator, the Free Press reported. He also helped set military priorities and investigate corporate behavior for decades before retiring in 2015.

Levin first ran for the U.S. Senate in 1978, defeating incumbent Robert Griffin, the newspaper reported.

“He had a penchant for seeing the world through the eyes of people who struggled against injustice and was called to hold our democratic institutions accountable to everyone,” the Levin Center said in a statement.

Levin served as chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee on two different occasions despite having never served in uniform himself, the Free Press reported.

Levin also investigated Pentagon spending practices and played a key role in overturning the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule that prohibited gay service members from openly acknowledging their sexual orientation before 2011, the newspaper reported.

Chuck Wilbur, who guided Levin’s re-election campaigns in 1996 and 2002, said Levin forged relationships to cement his leadership.

“His personal values were what made him a great senator,” Wilbur told Crain’s Detroit Business. “Being a great man made him a great senator.”

Upon his retirement, Levin was called “Mr. Integrity” by fellow senator Chuck Schumer of New York, The Detroit News reported.

“He took on the tough guys. That was one of his principles,” Elise Bean, who worked for Levin on three subcommittees, told the newspaper. “The big guys that no one else would go after.”

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