Body of former Gov. Askew honored at Capitol

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Reubin Askew

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The viewing of the late Gov. Reubin Askew was held Tuesday at the state Capitol, where officials and residents paid their respects.

A hearse carrying Askew's coffin pulled up to the old Capitol around 9:30 a.m. Eight members of an honor guard carried the casket draped in an American flag inside.

Gov. Rick Scott and other state officials lined the sidewalks and followed inside to the second floor. The public was allowed in around 10:30 a.m.

Inside the old Capitol, a short receiving line of family stood beside the casket with a single white flower laid on top.

Askew died last week at age 85. His eight years in office during the 1970s coincided with the end of the Vietnam War, Watergate and dramatic social change across the nation.

Askew worked tirelessly for open government, eventually going around a reluctant Legislature and passing the first citizens lead amendment, known as the Sunshine Amendment, to require public officials to disclose their finances.

"I'm doing your business. And frankly you have a right to know essentially what I'm doing," Askew said in May 2001.

Florida's current governor and the three who followed Askew paid their respects to his widow, children and grandchildren Tuesday. Former Attorney General Bob Butterworth said the former governor lived up to his nickname.

"People would call him 'Goody Two-Shoes' in a positive way," Butterworth said. "Some people thought he was not going to be strong enough to be governor. He might have been the strongest governor we've ever had."

Former FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte will give the eulogy at Wednesday's funeral service. He lauds Askew for voluntarily giving up the power to appoint judges.

"It's incredible to think about a governor saying, 'Look, I'm not going to appoint my friends,'" D'Alemberte said.

In addition opening government, Askew also appointed the first African-Americans to high-level state positions. Joseph Hatchett was the first African-American appointed to serve on the state Supreme Court.

"He had the courage to take on new issues and to push the state forward," the retired justice said.

Graveside services for Askew will be held Friday in Pensacola, the city where he was first elected.

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