Historic City News was informed that 85-year-old Reubin O’Donovan Askew, 37th Governor of Florida and a pivotal figure in Florida politics, died today; he was admitted to Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare on Saturday with aspiration pneumonia and had suffered a stroke.
Askew was a Democrat; known for implementing Florida’s corporate income tax, which was the cornerstone of his 1970 campaign for governor, and for the “Sunshine Amendment” that mandated financial disclosure by public officials. He appointed the first black Supreme Court justice, Joseph Hatchett, and advocated advancement of women in state agencies and political positions.
Askew was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and grew up in Pensacola. He was an assistant prosecutor for two years before his election to the Florida House in 1958. He was elected to the Senate in 1962 and beat Republican Governor Claude Kirk in 1970. He was easily re-elected in 1974.
Askew earned his law degree at the University of Florida and was known as one of the “New South” governors who were elected in 1970 and turned the region’s political focus away from race and toward education, economic development and environmental concerns. After his political career, Askew continued teaching public policy and administration at Florida universities.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Donna Lou Askew, and by his son Kevin Askew and daughter Angela White and several grandchildren.
Photo credits: © 2014 Historic City News State Archives of Florida