News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE – Florida is in mourning this week following the death of former U.S. senator and two-term Florida governor Bob Graham, one of the state’s most beloved politicians.

Hailed by a former president as “a consummate public servant,” Graham died Tuesday at age 87.
An announcement by Graham’s family underscored his status as one of most-popular figures in Florida politics over the past half-century.
“While he valued his opportunities to represent others in public office, the jobs Bob Graham most loved were those he spent working alongside everyday Floridians,” the announcement said. “His more than 400 workdays, in occupations ranging from construction to farming to hospitality, created wonderful friendships across the state and forever changed his perspective on Florida and his approach to public service.”
The statement was posted by Graham’s daughter, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who is now an assistant secretary of education in the Biden Administration.
Graham will lie in state at the Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee on Friday, April 26. A private graveside service is expected later in the day at Oakland Cemetery, which is just west of the governor’s mansion.
Graham kicked off his career in politics as the president of Miami High’s student body and went on to serve as chancellor of the student honor court at the University of Florida before graduating from Harvard Law School.
He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1966.
After representing part of Miami-Dade County in the state Senate, Graham was first elected governor in 1978, winning a Democratic runoff and then easily defeating Republican Jack Eckerd in the general election. In 1986, Graham defeated Republican U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins and went on to serve three terms in Washington.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle mourned Graham’s death.
Graham was a “colleague, friend, and devoted Floridian whose nearly 50 years of service to his beloved home state and to our country have made America a safer and stronger nation,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
Former President Barack Obama also remembered Graham as a “champion of the environment.” Obama appointed Graham as co-chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.
“Bob Graham was a friend and a consummate public servant,” Obama said. “As a governor, senator, and legislator, he spent decades fighting for the people of Florida.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday announced that flags would be lowered to half-staff during the day at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout Florida until the day of Graham’s interment.
“So, we mourn the passing of Bob Graham. He was a great Floridian. He’s served this state with honor and integrity and really made a great contribution,” DeSantis said while at a bill signing event in Hialeah Gardens.


Florida’s public school students of all ages are in line to get lessons about the history of communism and could get programs and services from volunteer chaplains, under bills signed by DeSantis this week.
The change that will go into effect first will involve chaplains being allowed on campuses, under a bill signed Thursday.
Under the measure (HB 931), school districts and charter schools could choose to craft policies allowing chaplains to provide “support, services, and programs” as long as certain requirements are met.
For example, written parental consent would be required for students to participate and the policies would have to describe the services that would be provided. School districts that participate would have to publish on their web sites lists of the volunteer chaplains and their religious affiliations.

Speaking at a high school in Osceola County alongside Republican allies and a local pastor, the governor touted the measure (HB 931) as bolstering existing resources that could help students with their mental health.
“It used to be, I mean, when education in the United States first started, every school was a religious school. That was just part of it. Public schools were religious schools. There’s been things that have been done over the years that veered away from that original intent,” DeSantis said.
But the measure has faced opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, which maintains that such efforts are an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state.
“Allowing chaplains in public schools violates students’ and families’ right to religious freedom. And, because chaplains are typically not trained or certified to provide educational or counseling services to youth, students are likely to receive inadequate mental health support that, in some cases, may be harmful,” the ACLU said in a March post on its website.
The measure will go into effect on July 1.
On Wednesday, the governor signed a measure (SB 1264) that will lead to the history of communism being taught in grades as low as kindergarten. The lessons will be added to required instruction in public schools starting in the 2026-27 school year.
“We’re going to tell the truth about the evils of communism,” DeSantis said.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Bob Graham, a two-term Florida governor who went on to serve in the U.S. Senate and was known for his work days across the state, died Tuesday at age 87, his family announced.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “He was committed to education and to the environment, continuing work that he’d begun as governor to support public schools and universities, and to protect the water supply, wetlands, and wildlife of Florida’s iconic Everglades.” — President Joe Biden, on the death of former U.S. senator and two-term Florida governor Bob Graham.