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  Thornburgh, Richard L. "Dick"
<-  1988-01-01  
NameRichard L. "Dick" Thornburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania , United States
Born July 16, 1932
DiedDecember 31, 2020 (88 years)
Last ModifedMr. Matt
Dec 31, 2020 03:17pm
Tags Episcopalian -
InfoRichard Lewis Thornburgh

Dick Thornburgh served as Governor of Pennsylvania, our nation's sixth largest state, Attorney General of the United States under two presidents and the highest-ranking American at the United Nations during a public career, which spanned over 25 years. He is currently counsel to the national law firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP, resident in its Washington, D.C. office.

Elected Governor of Pennsylvania in 1978 and re-elected in 1982, Thornburgh was the first Republican ever to serve two successive terms in that office. He served as Chair of the Republican Governors Association and was named by his fellow governors as one of the nation's most effective big-state governors in a 1986 Newsweek poll.

During his service as Governor, Thornburgh balanced state budgets for eight consecutive years, reduced both personal and business tax rates, cut the state's record-high indebtedness and left a surplus of $350 million. Under his leadership, 15,000 unnecessary positions were eliminated from a swollen state bureaucracy and widely recognized economic development; education and welfare reform programs were implemented. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate, among the ten highest in the nation when he was elected, was among the ten lowest when he left office. Thornburgh was instrumental in the establishment of the Ben Franklin program, which since its founding in 1983, has supported the development of over 1,500 high technology companies in the state.

Following the unprecedented Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979, he was described by observers as "one of the few authentic heroes of that episode as a calm voice against panic."

After his unanimous confirmation by the United States Senate, Thornburgh served three years as Attorney General of the United States (1988-1991) in the cabinets of Presidents Reagan and Bush. He mounted an unprecedented attack on white-collar crime as the Department of Justice obtained a record number of convictions of savings and loan and securities officials, defense contractors and corrupt public officials. Thornburgh established strong ties with law enforcement agencies around the world to help combat drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism and international white-collar crime. The Legal Times noted that Thornburgh as Attorney General "built a reputation as one of the most effective champions that prosecutors have ever had." He is one of only twenty persons, including seven Presidents, to be named as an honorary Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As Attorney General, Thornburgh played a leading role in the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He also took vigorous action against racial, religious and ethnic "hate crimes," and his office mounted a renewed effort to enforce the nation's anti-trust and environmental laws. During his tenure as Attorney General, Thornburgh twice personally argued and won cases before the United States Supreme Court.

All told, Thornburgh served in the Justice Department under five Presidents, beginning as United States Attorney in Pittsburgh (1969-1975) and Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division (1975-1977), emphasizing efforts against major drug traffickers, organized crime and corrupt public officials.

During his service as Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations (1992-1993), Thornburgh was in charge of personnel, budget and finance matters. His report to the Secretary-General on reform, restructuring and streamlining efforts designed to make the United Nations peacekeeping, humanitarian and development programs more efficient and cost-effective was widely praised. He also has served as a consultant to the United Nations and the World Bank on efforts to battle fraud and corruption.

Throughout his public career, he has traveled widely, visiting over 40 countries and meeting with leaders from Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia and Central and South America. He served as an observer to Russia's legislative (1993) and presidential (1996) elections and is Chairman of the U.S. Committee for Hong Kong.

A native of Pittsburgh, Thornburgh was educated at Yale University, where he obtained a degree in civil engineering, and at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where he served as an editor of the Law Review. He has been awarded honorary degrees by 30 other colleges and universities. Thornburgh served as Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government (1987-1988) and was a visiting lecturer at the George Washington University Law School (1995). He has lectured on over 100 other campuses, including Moscow State University debated at the Oxford Union and frequently appears as a guest commentator on network news and talk shows.

Thornburgh is a member of the board of directors of Elan Corporation, plc, an international pharmaceutical firm headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, and serves on the boards of the University of Pittsburgh, The Urban Institute, the National Museum of Industrial History and the DeWitt Wallace Fund for Colonial Williamsburg. He was previously a member of the boards of Merrill Lynch Incorporated, Rite-Aid Corporation, ARCO Chemical Corporation and the National Academy of Public Administration. He is Chairman of the State Science and Technology Institute and Vice-Chairman of the World Committee on Disability. He is a member of the board of advisors of the Russian American Institute for Law and Economics and chairs the Legal Policy Advisory Board of the Washington Legal Foundation.

He is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Foundation, the American Judicature Society and the Council on Foreign Relations. In 1992, he was honored by the American Legion with its highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, for "outstanding service to the community, state and nation" at its annual meeting in Chicago.

Thornburgh was an elected Delegate to Pennsylvania's historic Constitutional Convention (1967-1968) where he spearheaded efforts at judicial and local government reform. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives (1966) and the United States Senate (1991).

Thornburgh, age 68, is married to Ginny Judson Thornburgh, a former school teacher from New York, who holds degrees from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She presently serves as Vice President and Director of the Religion and Disability Program of the National Organization on Disability, based in Washington, D.C. and co-authored and edited That All May Worship, an award-winning handbook for congregations working to include people with all types of disabilities.

The Thornburghs have four sons and six grandchildren. As parents of a son with mental retardation, they have taken a special interest in the needs of persons with disabilities and, with their son, Peter, were named "Family of the Year" in 1985 by the Pennsylvania Association of Retarded Citizens. Both Ginny and Dick Thornburgh were featured speakers at the Vatican Conference on Disabilities held in November 1992.



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Date Category Headline Article Contributor

Importance? 10.00000 Average


  11/05/1991 PA US Senate Special Lost 44.99% (-10.01%)
  08/11/1988 US Attorney General Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  11/02/1982 PA Governor Won 50.84% (+2.73%)
  11/07/1978 PA Governor Won 52.54% (+6.10%)
  05/16/1978 PA Governor - R Primary Won 32.62% (+11.89%)
  11/08/1966 PA District 14 Lost 31.73% (-36.54%)
  05/17/1966 PA District 14 - R Primary Won 78.56% (+57.11%)
PA Governor - R Primary - May 18, 2010 R Tom Corbett
PA Governor - R Primary - May 16, 2006 R William W. "Bill" Scranton III
PA US Senate - R Primary - Apr 22, 1980 R Harold F. "Bud" Haabestad