(5/12/14) Wisconsin's longest-serving legislator says former Governor Patrick Lucey will be remembered as one of the state's most influential citizens.
State Senate Democrat Fred Risser of Madison said Lucey turned Wisconsin into a "two-party state." The 96-year-old Lucey died Saturday night at the Milwaukee Catholic Home where he lived for several years. He had a brief illness. Many have credited Lucey with the rise of Wisconsin's Democratic Party in the wake of the Joe McCarthy era. The La Crosse native chaired the state Democrats in the 1950's -- and he helped former President John F. Kennedy win a key primary in the Badger State in 1960. Lucey became governor a decade later, serving the first four-year term in that post. He served for most two terms, and was credited with the merger of the U-W and the old State University System in 1972. He also reduced the "Age of Majority" in which the age for voting, drinking, marriage, and other adult responsibilities dropped from 21-to-18. Lucey also appointed the first female justice to the State Supreme Court -- Shirley Abrahamson, who remains the chief justice. In 1977, Lucey became the U-S Ambassador to Mexico. In '80, he ran for vice president as an independent with John Anderson. He later remained politically involved as a professor at Marquette and Harvard, and as a supporter of Democrats John Kerry and Barack Obama in the past decade. Republican Governor Scott Walker praised Lucey as a "dedicated public servant who loved Wisconsin." Funeral arrangements are pending. His family expects to have a public memorial service at some point.