SCRANTON — People who knew Governor William Scranton or just admired him came to Covenant Presbyterian Church on Madison Avenue in his namesake city to pay their respects.
Five men there had distinct respect for Scranton, as all of them followed him into the governor’s office.
“I remember his encouragement to a young Dick Thornburgh when I was thinking about running for office. I held him in such great esteem because he was a role model,” said Gov. Dick Thornburgh who was governor from 1979 to 1987.
All of Pennsylvania’s living governors attended the memorial service and most of them had a tale to tell about a phone call from Governor Scranton offering advice and suggestions on how to run the state.
“We all remember his comportment and his nature. He was very approachable, but also a straight-talk guy. No surprise when it comes to someone with northeastern Pennsylvania roots,” said Gov. Mark Schweiker who was governor from 2001 to 2003.
It was Scranton’s wish to have his memorial service back home in the city his family helped to build but, the governors who followed him reflected on what Scranton built throughout the state and the world.
“I think his service reflects what I hope I’m reflecting, and what everyone should reflect in government, and that is to leave the office better than when you found it,” said Governor Tom Corbett.
“I’m very sad that we are losing our two-party system, when we had two parties that basically represented all of the American people. There are no Republican moderates left like Bill Scranton. They’re disappearing. We, the country, are worse off because of it,” said Gov. Ed Rendell who was governor from 2003 to 2011.
The five governors each called the memorial service a “celebration of life”, saying Scranton’s 96 years had a profound impact on Pennsylvania and the world even long after he left Harrisburg in 1967.
“There all kinds of things that he did privately to advance the community that I’m not sure everybody truly knew or appreciated. Frankly, that was his nature. He didn’t do it for any notoriety. What he was doing, ‘I’m just going to do the right thing all the time for my community, my commonwealth, and my country,’ and that was his legacy, he did,” said Gov. Tom Ridge, governor from 1995 to 2001.
People from many walks of life also attended the service to pay their respects to Governor Scranton.