Honorable Steve Kagen, M.D.

Wisconsin's former 8th District Representative

January 4, 2007 to December 22, 2010

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Congressman Steve Kagen Recalls the Life of the Honorable Rev. Robert Cornell

Press Release

Media Contact:
Jake Rubin 202.225.5665


“He served with honor and great passion.”

May 11, 2009

Appleton, WI — “Northeast Wisconsin has lost one of its greatest and most courageous voices for social justice – the Honorable Rev. Robert Cornell. 

A life-long advocate for the betterment of mankind, a deep-thinking educator, and a keeper of his faith, Bob served all of us – leaving no one behind.  He served our children as an experienced professor at St. Norbert College, and in his public life as a great Democrat in the 8th District of Wisconsin.  He served with honor and great passion.

He committed his life to those who needed his help the most; those who were in need.  And when I needed his counsel, he always found time to guide me.

I first met Bob when my own father, Dr. Marv Kagen, ran for U.S. Congress in 1966.  He was a broad shouldered man with a deep, penetrating voice.  As a teenager, I really thought if he tried hard enough, he could make thunder appear in a cloudless sky.  Congressman Cornell never spoke on any subject without having thought it all the way through.

Former Congressman Cornell spoke truth to power long before it became popular, opposing our nation’s involvement in the brutal civil war in Vietnam.  And he was on the front lines during the civil rights movement, speaking out in our nation’s battle against discrimination, poverty and ignorance.  Rev. Cornell stood up for what is best in America, understanding the essential differences between what is just and unjust.

During my campaign for the House of Representatives in 2005, I visited with him to discuss politics, and after my election, he shared his ideas with me about policies to improve the lives of everyone here in Wisconsin.  In January 2007, before my first speech on the House floor, I telephoned him from the Cloak Room and he encouraged me to challenge Congress to finally agree to guarantee access to affordable health care for everyone.

It was an honor to have been able to benefit from his experience and counsel.  We later shared ideas together at the Abbey and, after he became ill, in his room when he was unable to sit or walk.  He was a good friend to his fellow Norbertine brothers, to his many, many students – and he shall be greatly missed.

Now, with his passing, it is time for all of us to keep faith with his life of public service by finishing the job he began a generation ago: to conquer human ignorance and fear – and to begin to solve our differences by a means other than war.

I am working hard to enact Bob’s ideals and shall miss his presence greatly."


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