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|Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker
Nancy Landon was born in Topeka, Kansas, on July 29, 1932. Her father was Alf Landon, a former Governor of Kansas who tried to defeat incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. After attending public schools in Topeka, Nancy received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kansas, in 1954. She then spent a year working as a receptionist at Hallmark Cards. In 1956, she married Philip Kassebaum, a high school sweetheart. Moving to Michigan, Nancy obtained her Master of Arts in Diplomatic History from the University of Michigan (1956), while her husband obtained his law degree. The couple then spent the next twenty years living on the Kassebaum family farm in Maize, Kansas. While Philip Kassebaum established a successful law practice, Nancy raised the couple's four children; she also served as vice president of two Wichita, Kansas, radio stations owned by the Kassebaum family.
Kassebaum became involved in public service after separating from her husband, in 1975 (the couple ultimately divorced in 1979). She served on the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission from 1975 to 1976, and on the Kansas Committee for the Humanities from 1975 to 1979. She also served on the Maize School Board, and eventually became its president.
On December 23, 1978, the Governor of Kansas appointed her to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator James B. Pearson. She was re-elected in 1984 and 1990, and served from December 23, 1978, to January 3, 1997; she did not run for another term in 1996.
During her tenure in the Senate, Kassebaum served in the Senate half of the Military Reform Caucus; as chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and as chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. On matters of domestic policy, she was a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, but not for an extension of the deadline for its ratification; supported the failed nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court; and, opposed the National and Community Service Act and the Act for Better Child Care on grounds that they would be too expensive to implement. On foreign policy, she supported the Panama Canal Treaty, but was critical of the U.S. invasion of Granada. In 1986, she introduced an amendment to limit the United States' support of the United Nations budget to 20 percent unless the one-nation, one-vote rule was changed to reflect each country's financial contribution.
In December, 1996, Kassebaum married Howard Baker, Jr., former Senator from Tennessee and Republican Majority Leader. She has been retired from politics since.
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This page was last updated on September 24, 2017.