John Boehner, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
"The passing of our friend and colleague, Bill Young, brings us here to celebrate his life and to bring comfort to Beverly and to his family. Beverly, on behalf of all my colleagues and officers and staff of the House, thank you for letting us share this moment with you and your family. Your loss is our loss. It's as simple as that. Here was a man who loved, in this order, God, his family, his country and the House appropriations committee.
"Yes, it was greedy of us to gripe when Bill gave us the word that he wouldn't run again, but we did it anyway. After all, we owed the man everything. We had the chance to tell him that and to give our thanks and to let him know that the privilege had all been ours. The former president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, called Bill last week to say the same. Why? I'll tell you why. Because Bill Young wasn't just a leading man of the House, he was the House. How many times did his grace preserve decorum? How many times did his word save an important measure? Or his mere presence make the common the exceptional? Especially when it concerned the well-being of the men and women who wore our uniform and defend our nation. And the defense of the House itself. Bill did so much for our institution and perhaps his greatest gift to the body was the simplest one: that was his fundamental sense of decency.
"When you think about all the tall orders that he fulfilled and all the people he had to wrangle with and yet somehow he never uttered a cross word. Never acted in bad faith, and I always really admired him for it. You know, too often we are quick to condemn and slow to be humble. As if kindness were a weakness in these tough, bottom-line times. But we know that just isn't true. And we can say that because generations of Americans saw Bill Young come from nothing, a shack, to become a legend in the House and the people's House. They watched him do so much good after being given so little.
"There's an old saying, 'Service is the rent we pay for the space that we occupy here on earth.' Well, if that is true, the gentleman from Florida had paid in full a long time ago. We were able to tell him these things, nothing was left unsaid. Of course, except farewell.
"The night Bill left, as I said, it would be impossible to imagine the House without him. What now? Who among us will carry on this man's work? And having thought about it, I would suggest you just look at the person next to you, because no one man or one woman can fill his shoes. It will take all of us. So, Mr. Chairman, no need to call the roll on this one. The vote is unanimous.... For now goodbye and God bless my great friend."
• • •
Gen. James F. Amos, Marine Corps Commandant
"I stand before you today, not only representing my service, but all the joint chiefs and all the members of the other armed forces to include our brothers of the United States Coast Guard. Over the past week I've been approached by many of our fellow senior leaders in the military who admired Chairman Bill Young. To a person, they speak of his passing in terms of a national tragedy. They expressed an appreciation for the quiet and reserved way that he would simply get business done. Of how he never sought credit for himself, rather he just wanted to make sure that America had the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen that it needed to defend our nation both at home and around the world. Bill Young knew what it meant to persevere. He survived a hunting accident, a plane crash and more than 50 years as a leader in American politics, and he did it all while maintaining his integrity with a strong sense of dignity and honor and a compassion for his fellow man, especially those who were less fortunate. Chairman Bill Young did more to serve our nation and its people than just about anybody I know."
• • •
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
"Bill was much more than the sum of his achievements. He was a man of character, of decency, of compassion, of integrity and of extraordinary patriotism. He was a gentleman. He was a gentle man. And a dear friend to so many.
"He was a skilled legislator and a respected leader in the House and for our country. We will remember him not only for his extraordinary qualities, but for how he used those extraordinary qualities, used them to enhance and enrich his country, and all of us. We remember him for the depth and goodness of his character, for the generosity of his spirit, and for the patience he displayed and the compassion he practiced.
"The hardness of his experiences as a child in the Pennsylvania coal-mining town, where he was the victim of a shooting accident and where his family's house was destroyed in a flood, contributed, I think, to the tenderness of Bill's warm and open heart. And he lived his life according to the words of Romans 12:15-16 which reads, 'Rejoice for those who rejoice. Weep for those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.'
"Bill found joy in his life of service, promoting harmony among those who served with him and feeling the pain of those who were in need of help. We remember Bill for his humility that was so very genuine. For the wisdom he possessed and the common sense he exercised, for the legislative skill he displayed and the life of integrity that he lived. And we remember him for the commitment to Beverly, the wonderful Beverly whom he adored, and his family, who were his constant guide and always on his mind. We will remember him for his smile that was so welcoming and kind. For his eagerness to listen attentively to constituents and colleagues alike. All of these set Bill Young apart. And we will never forget his love and care for those who protect and defend our nation. And for his partnership with Beverly, who was his only peer in the care and love that they have given for so long, so passionately, so completely to our wounded warriors. ...
"None of us, none of us ever questioned for a moment the depth and the sincerity of Bill's love for the people he was honored to represent. Yes, the people of this district, but the people of Florida and the people of this great nation. Former Speaker of the House James 'Champ' Clark said this and I quote, 'The best plan for a constituency to pursue is to select a man of good sense, good habits and perfect integrity, young enough to learn, and re-elect him so long as he retains his faculty and is faithful to his trust.' The people of Pinellas County took that advice to heart when they sent Bill Young to Congress 42 years ago and had the good sense to keep sending him back election after election after election to this very day. All of us owe the citizens of Pinellas County a debt of gratitude for sending Bill Young to serve with us and for us. We cherish his friendship and his extraordinary example. Here in the community he loved with such devotion, surrounded by his family and the people he represented in office for half a century, we pay him a heartfelt tribute. It will not be, nor should it be, our last tribute. He will always be remembered as a good and decent man who loved his country and served it so well. May God give comfort and solace to Beverly, all of his family, and may God bless and keep alive the legacy and the spirit of our friend Bill."
• • •
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., vice chairman of defense appropriations subcommittee, which Young chaired
"He was always gracious, well-humored and accommodating to freshman and to old-timers alike. It is well-known that Bill Young chaired the House appropriations committee and twice the defense subcommittee. He also served as ranking member when the majority changed hands. He loved our committee, constantly saluted our members for their dedication and fully expected each one to support the process, to limit debate, to support open rules and with a minimum of partisanship do the nation's business. A copy of the Constitution was ever-present in his pocket — some of you may not know that — to remind us all of Article 1, Section 9, clause 7. If you don't know it, look it up, he'd say.
"On the defense subcommittee, he always spoke of the dedication of members of our armed forces and the sacrifice of their families and our committee's obligation to serve them. He would say at every meeting, our soldiers, our sailors, our marines and airmen and women, are the ones doing the work of freedom, the ones who work every day to make the world safer for Americans and our friends, and more dangerous for those who would do us harm. ...
"We've all lost a kind, great principled man who lived a life from which we could all learn. … Ladies and gentlemen, the sun is setting, and I may say, on an honorary marine who has had a remarkable American life of service and that life of service will never be forgotten. From the back row of the House chamber, Bill Young had a front-row seat to history, a history he helped shape and for that our nation is a stronger and better place."
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Gordon England, former deputy secretary of defense
"Bill Young was my friend. Actually, he was more than my friend. Life is interesting in that people come and go through our lives, hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people we know that pass through, and sometimes we see them again, and sometimes we don't. But there are certain people that you hold onto, and Bill and I held onto each other. Bill and I would see each other, we could be at the other end of the hall, and if we saw each other, we would raise our hands, and we would laugh and smile and when we got closer we would embrace, and we just had a special relationship and even on the phone when we spoke it was a joyful, joyful moment. ...
Bill and I became very close after the events of 9/11 and after our military was deployed to Afghanistan and later to Iraq, and you've heard how Bill with Beverly went to Bethesda and Walter Reed many, many times. But it's hard to remember those times because, early on, we didn't have the USO we have today and the Armed Forces foundation or the Fisher Houses. Families came to the hospitals with spouses, or sons, sometimes shot, perhaps in the head or they lost their legs and the families were alone in a strange city, sometimes with no money and no support.
"But Bill and Beverly were there. And they were not just there, but they became part of their journey. They became part of those families and they helped their families on their journey. And by the way, they maintain a lot of those relationships today. Bill became part of the journeys of hundreds of families of the fallen. He eased their pain, and he made their lives better. It was his sacred pilgrimage and also Beverly's.
"And this is how Bill lived his life: helping others. And this is why Bill's death is so painful. Because he is no longer part of our journey. We now have a void in our journey to life everlasting. Now the good news for me is that I know that one day I will see Bill again when I pass through life into the next life, and I will see Bill in the distance, and he will waving and smiling and I'll be smiling back, and we will embrace, and we will spend our time together in life everlasting. I know that Bill would want me to say to the military that he loves so much, he would want me to say God bless to all those that serve, especially the wounded and their families and the fallen and their families, and all who stand on watch today."
• • •
"For two of the first four years of my life, I did not have a father. Bill adopted me. I came along with my mom. I'm a marriage counselor right now, I'm a clinical psychologist, and I don't see very many men who are willing to take on a 4-year-old kid. It meant a lot to me. If it were not for him, I wouldn't have a father at all.
"He taught me a lot of stuff. He didn't talk as much as a lot of people do. He was kind of a quiet guy. The most important thing that he taught me, I think, is balance. Everybody knows he's a Republican. He taught me that you should always listen. He always said, you only have one mouth and two ears. He said even when somebody is wrong, you should at least hear their point of view.
"He was a pretty balanced guy, I don't think a lot of people necessarily know that or see that. He taught me to understand that there are different ways of seeing things, and I apply that now in my work as a marriage counselor, and every day that I go to work, people benefit from the way that I was raised. You know, in marriage counseling, pretty much everyone wants to kill each other, and I have to spend a lot of time helping people understand that there's two sides to a story.
"And if it weren't for my dad, I wouldn't realize that, I wouldn't know that. He always taught me that extremism is not a good thing. And it helps me, and I think it helps my son, and one day it will help my daughter. His work will carry on, strangely in a completely different arena than he was ever involved in. But he touches people's lives every day in that way. And I don't think he ever really knew that. And I don't know if he'll ever know that. But I want you to know that."
And then later, after his brother Bill, talks, Robert says:
"I would also like to say that he also has three other children that are adults. They are not really speakers. I did not want to put them on the spot. I do not know what their last names are right now. We are not his only children. Thank you."
• • •
Bill Young II
"My dad was for 30 years by best friend, my mentor, my hero, someone I could rely on. We had phone calls almost every day. If nothing else, to talk about sports scores or to ask what was going on the world. I don't know if he knew that I was calling for advice. I think he thought I was just calling to check in on him and make sure he was okay. But every conversation I had with him, I was taking advice from him. Because he was one of the best men this world will every know. He had the composure and knowledge to be levelheaded and not to make harsh decisions, and to use your brain and use your heart when make decisions. I am just blessed that my father had so many years to get to know my son, who is sleeping over there, who is grandpa's namesake, he's C.W. III and my newest son Easton. …
"Mothers and sons can always have their issues. Any kids can have their issues. But at the end of the day, my father loved my mother more than anything on this world aside from his grandkids. For several years, 24/7, around the clock, every day, my mom took care of him. If she had not been there to take care of him in the way that she did, not only would he not have been able to go to Washington and do his job, he would not have been able to be with his kids and grandkids. He would regularly tell my brothers and I, nobody but Beverly and God will ever know how much she's done for me. So for what we do know of what you did for him, Mom, thank you, thank you for giving him to us and for allowing our kids to have more time with him. … Anyone who knew him respected him, and anyone he met, he respected. ... I know my dad is listening. I want him to know that the meaning of respect is you, Dad. You are respect."