2014 : Former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelly Turns 90

December 31, 2021 all-day

Photo of Frank Kelly, courtesy of Wikipedia

He’s not in the news frequently like he once was, but Frank Kelley, who served 37 years as Michigan attorney general and holds the record as the longest-serving attorney general in U.S. history, is still going strong as he turns 90 on New Year’s Eve.

He uses a walking stick (“It’s not a cane”), but still exercises in a swimming pool and drives a Packard he had custom-made from a Lincoln Town Car – likely the only car of its kind.

“I’m a health nut,” Kelley told the Free Press in a wide-ranging interview. “Wherever I went in Michigan, I would be in a swimming pool every other day for a half-hour. And I would lift weights and dumbbells for 15 minutes, four times a week.”

Kelley, a Democrat who served as Michigan’s attorney general from late 1961 through 1998 and became known as the “eternal general,” said he also ran a mile nearly every day for 30 years, until he was in his late 60s.

They no longer make politicians like Frank Kelley, either, says Jack Lessenberry, a political writer and commentator who heads the journalism faculty at Wayne State University and has been working with Kelley to publish his memoirs.

Though he was in some ways the “godfather of the Democratic party,” and had early influence on figures ranging from U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, to former Governors Jennifer Granholm and Jim Blanchard, Kelley worked alongside five governors, of whom three were Republicans, Lessenberry said.

Term limits instituted in 1992 limited the attorney general and other statewide officeholders to eight years in office and “you’ve got to be there a long time to get that kind of clout,” Lessenberry said. Michigan government was also less partisan prior to term limits and public servants such as Kelley “were citizens of America and Michigan first and partisans second and they could put partisanship aside when they needed to,” he said.

For the full article, see Paul Egan, “‘Eternal General’ Frank Kelley turns 90 Wednesday”, Detroit Free Press, December 30, 2014.

Frank Kelly wikipedia entry

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