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Honoring Michigan’s Longest-Serving Senator: Remembering Carl Levin

Over six decades Carl Levin fought to extend and ensure the American promise to all while holding democratic institutions accountable to everyone. Rising from a student activist to Detroit City Council member to U.S. Senator, he never lost his humility or uniquely human touch.

After retiring as Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. Senator in January 2015 after 36 years, his legacy extends to every corner of Michigan, including the preservation of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Upper Peninsula’s mining and maritime history; cleaner Great Lakes and Michigan streams; a beautiful Detroit Riverwalk; and an American auto industry that is stronger for his tireless support.

He will be remembered for his relentless intellect and work ethic, his humility, his humor, and his strength of character. Following his passing on July 29, national and regional leaders shared memories and reflections on his work and service to this country.


“Carl Levin was a champion of civility, a giant on the national political stage, and a steadfast supporter of his native Detroit. As Chair of the Armed Forces Committee, he made our nation stronger and more accountable and put Michigan in a central role in the defense sector. As important was his generous and humble spirit, his love for Barbara, and his service to Michiganders of all political stripes.”


“Senator Carl Levin was a champion for truth and justice and a tireless advocate for the people of Michigan. He always believed that our government could be a force for good, and he spent his career showing all of us how it’s done. Senator Levin was also my friend, and it was truly an honor to represent Michigan alongside him for 14 of the 36 years that he served in the Senate. Michigan was so fortunate to have him fighting for us.”


“Woke up to the sad news about Carl Levin. He was much more than a legislator; he was a wonderful listener who helped forge bipartisan consensus on many issues impacting Michigan. Carl was a respected straight-shooter and when he spoke, everybody listened.”


“His 36-year tenure in the United States Senate was marked by a tireless commitment to our auto industry, Great Lakes, and men and women in uniform. Carl would often wear his glasses on the tip of his nose, but he saw the best in us. He saw what we were capable of when we came to the table as Michiganders, as Americans, to get things done.”


“Carl Levin was one of the most decent human beings to walk the face of the earth. He was John Dingell’s best friend and partner in Congress. He was a steadfast leader who always stood up for what was right and knew every ounce about every issue. His contributions in Congress and in his Michigan community live on to this day and have impacted so many hardworking American families.”


“Sen. Carl Levin was one of the Senate’s giants, a leader of extraordinary intellect, impeccable ethics, exceptional energy, and obvious decency. I learned from him first as a Senate staffer, and then worked closely with him as an admiring Senate colleague. I will miss Carl greatly.”

Brilliant, humble, and principled, Carl earned the trust of his constituents and colleagues by doing the work. He studied the issues in detail. He forged consensus across the aisle. He built coalitions across his beloved Michigan. With his head tilted down, his eyes peering over his glasses – Carl always looked people straight into their own eyes, listened with an open mind, and responded the way he saw it with respect.”