George McGovern — who was the Democratic nominee for President against Richard Nixon in 1972 and recipient of a Distinguished Flying Cross for U.S. Army Air Force service during World War II — passed away Sunday at the age of 90.
McGovern’s family released the following statement: “Our wonderful father, George McGovern, passed away peacefully at the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, surrounded by our family and life-long friends. We are blessed to know that our father lived a long, successful and productive life advocating for the hungry, being a progressive voice for millions and fighting for peace.”
After volunteering for the U.S. Army Air Forces and flying 35 missions as a B-24 Liberator pilot in World War II, McGovern was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and 1958, representing his home state of South Dakota. He was elected to the Senate in 1962 and served on Senate committees on agriculture, nutrition, forestry and foreign relations, and the Joint Economic Committee. His failed Presidential run is remembered for both his landslide loss — he won only 17 electoral votes, while Nixon received 520 — as well as his fierce dedication to ending the war in Vietnam.
While Nixon would subsequently resign his Presidency in 1974 following the Watergate scandal, McGovern returned to the Senate from 1974-1980. In his later years, McGovern worked as a teacher and also served as president of the Middle East Policy Council from 1991 to 1998. In 2001, he was named the first United Nations global ambassador on hunger. He supported Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race, but was also critical of the Obama administration’s policies regarding the war in Afghanistan.
“When the people of South Dakota sent him to Washington, this hero of war became a champion for peace,” President Obama says of McGovern in a written statement. “And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger. George was a statesman of great conscience and conviction.”
McGovern’s family requests any donations in his memory should be made to Feeding South Dakota.