This book would not have been written without the help and encouragement of my good friend Jim Frost over the lengthy time we have been working together on it. I have also received help from Rachael Garrity, who has put the book into proper format for printing. Language, encouragement and other suggestions have come from Erica and Ann Stevens; and my friends, Ann Esse, Florence and Leon Hesser, John Limpitlaw, Joanne Quinn, Smith Schuneman, Dr. Merle Otto, Elizabeth Geiser, Klaus-Peter Voss, Cabell Brand, Sam Pizzagati, Jean Gibbs, Bill Van Arsdale, David Caswell, and others. I also have to thank my wife, Elinor for putting up with the time I have spent on this project and the times when I have not been available to spend time with her doing the things we both like to do.
FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE
When Berkley Bedell retired from Congress in 1986, he received letters thanking him for his service from more than 150 members of Congress. Below are excerpts from a selection of those letters.
“You have been an articulate idealist and open to suggestions of others. I have appreciated your leadership in the Prayer Breakfast movement and the occasions when we have enjoyed breakfast together. “~ Richard Lugar, Republican U.S. Senator, Indiana
“Berk was soon recognized as the conscience of our class—indeed, of the whole House of Representatives. His colleagues did observe, however, a serious fault in his conduct as a Congressman—he was straight forward and truthful. Sometimes this was a source of embarrassment to others in public office who were more accustomed to evasiveness and duplicity.”~ Father Robert Cornell, Democratic Congressman, Wisconsin
“It has been a truly great experience to work with you as we attempted to solve the problems of our folks back in Iowa as well as those facing the nation as a whole.”~ Cooper Evans, Republican Congressman, Iowa
“It was not only a pleasure, but an inspiration serving with you in Congress. When others were silent, you spoke up. When others were indifferent you cared. When others were nowhere to be found, you were actively promoting the causes in which we both believe. I will never forget your good work.”~ Stephen Solarz, Democratic Congressman, New York
“Regardless of the problems we faced, you were always optimistic and willing to work to the last minute to find the compromise. We have correctly labeled you the conscience of the House Agriculture Committee.”~ Pat Roberts, Republican Congressman, Kansas
“Never have I seen such a man of decency and integrity grace the halls of Congress as you… To you there were no in-betweens on anything. Now that you are O, K. get your ass back here in the House where you belong. Sorry to be so blunt, Berk, but we need you.”~ Bill Richardson, Democratic Congressman, New Mexico
“During the years we have worked together, I came to know not just your professionalism and die-hard work ethic, but also your insight, character and compassion. Your direction helped this great nation grow at the grass roots level and made a tremendous contribution to the nation’s future.”~ Silvio Conte, Republican Congressman, Massachusetts
“Your dedication to the survival of the planet and fearless chasing of Pentagon waste was unmatched.”~ Pat Schroeder, Democratic Congresswoman from Colorado
“We had the opportunity to fight many battles together on the Small Business Committee and on the legislation to provide a better life for our farmers. I consider myself fortunate that we were frequently on the same side, because you were a tough adversary. You may be assured that you go with the respect of all who were privileged to serve with you—on both sides of the aisle.”~ Toby Roth, Republican Congressman from Wisconsin
“Personally, politically, officially and in every other relevant way you’ve been a class act—jointly and singly as we lawyers say. When young people ask me if it’s possible to be an effective politician and retain your integrity and dignity, I’ve always cited Berk as an example. I still will.”~ Barney Frank, Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts
“What impresses me the most about you is the high standard of personal conduct you set in everything you did here in Washington. I knew I could disagree with you (as I often did) but I always knew that whatever you did came from the heart, and it came along with the highest standards.”~ Bill Frenzel, Republican Congressman from Minnesota
“You are an extra-ordinarily fine Human being and a great legislator—two traits which often do not go together. You have enriched this country with your service, and have enriched your colleagues with a heart that is as big as the State of Iowa and a commitment to justice and fairness unparalleled in the House.”~ Dan Glickman, Democratic Congressman from Kansas