Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young of Indian Shores taken in Feb. 28, 2011.
Photo courtesy of FLORIDA MEMORY
State Sen. C.W. "Bill" Young of Pinellas Park in 1961.
Photo courtesy YOUNG’S OFFICE
Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young is grand marshal at the Seminole Pow Wow Parade March 10, 2012. The Congressman was accompanied by Marine Corporal Jake Gauthier.
Photo by JULIANA A. TORRES
Bill Mischler shakes hands with U.S. Congressman Bill Young, accompanied by his granddaughter Anna, during a tribute to the longtime Pinellas Park mayor on March 17, 2012.
Photo courtesy YOUNG’S OFFICE
Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young talks to Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos on Feb. 20, 2010. On Jan. 3, 1971, Cretekos began his career as a legislative staff assistant for Pinellas County's newly elected U.S. Representative C. W. Bill Young. Cretekos retired from Young’s Office in May 2006.
Photo courtesy YOUNG’S OFFICE
Bill and Beverly Young visit a Bone Marrow Donor Center on May 3, 2006.
Photo courtesy YOUNG’S OFFICE
Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young welcomes a veteran to Washington D.C. during a 2012 honor flight.
Photos courtesy YOUNG’S OFFICE
Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young’s tenure in Washington D.C. lasted through eight presidents, including Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Pinellas County lost a powerful ally Friday night.
Charles William “Bill” Young, 82, of Indian Shores, the nation’s longest serving Republican member of the U.S. Congress died Oct. 18, 2013. Young served more than 50 years in public office - 10 in the Florida State Senate and 42 in the United States Congress.
Young’s family was with him when he passed away about 6:50 p.m. at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Young died from complications related to a chronic injury, according to a statement from his family.
The Congressman had been hospitalized for the past two weeks for treatment of chronic back pain, the result of injuries from a 1970 small plane crash.
A public visitation is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, 2801 Grand Ave. in Pinellas Park. A public funeral is Thursday, Oct. 24, 1 p.m., at First Baptist Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. A private burial will follow.
In these days of social media and email, reaction to Young’s death came quick.
Pinellas County Commission Chair Ken Welch posted on his Facebook page shortly after the announcement of Young’s passing.
"Thoughts and prayers to Congressman C.W. Bill Young and his family. Congressman Young was a great leader and representative. Faith and family will carry your through," Welch wrote.
Welch and his family are still recovering from the recent death of the commissioner's father, Dr. David Welch, who died Sept. 16.
Bill Mischler, former longtime mayor of Pinellas Park also expressed his thoughts on Facebook.
"I didn't lose my Congressman this evening," Mischler wrote. "I lost my friend and mentor. Congressman C.W. Bill Young passed away at 6:50 p.m. this evening. Please keep his wife Beverly and the rest of his family in your prayers at this time.”
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office posted “Our thoughts and prayers and with the family of Congressman C.W. “Bill” Young – a great friend to our agency and our community for the past 53 years.”
Young announced Oct. 9 that he would not be seeking reelection in 2014. Some news sources falsely reported Oct. 17 that he had died. His family released a statement shortly thereafter.
“Rep. C.W. Bill Young’s condition turned for the worse overnight and he is gravely ill,” the statement said. “His doctors say his prognosis is guarded.”
Calls to the Congressman’s office the afternoon of Oct. 18 revealed nothing new on his condition. That night, his family announced that the Congressman had died.
Pinellas County’s representative
Young served 10 years in the Florida State Senate, 1960 to 1970. He served Florida’s 13th Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 1971 to 2013. The 13th Congressional District is the only one in the state contained within one county. It includes all of Pinellas except for precincts in south St. Petersburg.
Young has been a strong advocate for Pinellas County. Despite his poor health, he fought for Pinellas County as long as he could. Only a month ago, he testified during a Sept. 18 hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and Subcommittee on Economic Policy about the problems the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012 was causing for his constituents.
Young relayed the “concern, outrage and fear” of his constituents, many from Pinellas, about the “devastating effect” of premium increases. He urged the Senate to delay implementation.
Young took on many local issues, including congestion on U.S. 19. He worked tirelessly to attract high-tech jobs to St. Petersburg. He took steps to improve health care for low-income children and families in this county. He was instrumental in the creation of Tampa Bay Water to ensure the area’s drinking water supply. The reservoir bears his name. He has been a strong ally in getting funding for nourishment of the county’s beaches.
Long history of service
Young’s tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives lasted through eight presidential administrations, including Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
At the time of his death, he was serving as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which he also chaired from 1995 to 1998 and 2005 to 2006. He was a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.
Young served as chair of the House Appropriations Committee from 1999 to 2005. The last time the United States had a balanced federal budget was when he was chair, according to his website.
He was a strong advocate for biomedical research. He secured federal funding for increased immunizations for preschoolers, improved public health programs, and cures for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases.
One of his hallmark achievements is creation of a national registry for bone marrow donors established in 1986. Congress named the program the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program in 2005. The Department of Defense also established the C.W. Bill Young Marrow Donor Center, which is one of 79 centers in the United States. The DOD’s program focuses on recruiting marrow donors from active military personnel.
The C.W. Bill Young Marrow Donor Recruitment and Research Program has registered more than six million Americans, including more than 400,000 service members, as marrow donors. More than nine million volunteer donors are currently registered. The registry has provided matches for life-saving transplants for more than 50,000 individuals.
A nine-year veteran of the Army National Guard, 1948 to 1957, and six more as a reservist, Young is known for his work for veterans, including the expansion of the Bay Pines VA Medical Center in Seminole. Young’s website talks about his work to better the lives of veterans and active military personnel through his position on the Appropriations Committee.
He met with enlisted personnel and officers to assess their needs and advocated improved base housing, better medical care, increased pay and better equipment. A number of photos on his website show the Congressman meeting with veterans, most recently those participating in Honor Flights from Pinellas County.
Young was born in Harmarville, Pa., Dec. 16, 1930. He spent the first 14 years of his life in the small coal-mining town located in Harmar Township in Allegheny County, current population 1,200. The Allegheny River Lock and Dam No. 3, built in 1932, is also known as the C.W. Bill Young Lock and Dam.
When Young was age 6, his father left the family after a flood washed away their home. At age 15, his family moved to Pinellas County to live with an uncle. Young dropped out of St. Petersburg High School to take care of his sick mother and then joined the Army National Guard at age 18. At age 25, he began a career as an insurance salesman, eventually opening his own agency. He was elected to the Florida Senate in 1960.
Young divorced his first wife in 1985, which whom he had three children, and married his current wife, Beverly the same year. They had two children together, Billy, and Patrick, and raised Beverly's son, Rob, from her first marriage.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott released a statement on Young’s death.
“Ann and I join all Floridians as we mourn the passing of Rep. Bill Young. As Florida’s longest serving member of Congress, Bill will be remembered as a true statesman and champion for the Tampa Bay area,” Scott said. He served with eight U.S. Presidents throughout his career, always putting the families of Florida first, and working across the aisle to find solutions.
“His work to support military family, our veterans, and his own service with the Army National Guard and as a reservist, will leave a lasting legacy. Rep. Young will be missed by his constituents and our entire nation.”
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio also released a statement Friday night.
“Floridians have lost one of the greatest public servants we’ve ever had in our state’s history,” Rubio said. “For over a half century, Bill fought tirelessly for the Tampa Bay region and to strengthen Florida’s role as a critical part of our national defense. Largely because of Bill Young, many of our nation’s brave men and women in uniform have called Florida home at some point in their careers, with many of them spending their golden retirement years here. Throughout Bill’s career, our military and veterans have had no greater champion than him. My thoughts and prayers are with Bill’s wife, Beverly, and their entire family.”
Filling the void
The U.S. Constitution mandates that members of the House of Representatives be replaced only by an election held in the congressional district of the former representative.
It is the responsibility of the state governor to call for a special election to replace the vacant House seat.
The process must include political party nominations, primary elections and a general election, all within the congressional district involved. The process could take as long as three to six months.
According to federal law, the office of the former representative remains open until a replacement is elected. Staff operates under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The congressional district no longer has a voting representation; however, constituents can continue to contact the interim office for assistance with a limited range of services. Anyone with cases pending within Young’s Office should receive notification as to whether they can still receive assistance.
Revised to include information about Young's public visitation and funeral serivces.