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October 21, 2012 05:43 AM

Senator George McGovern Dies

Sioux Falls, SD

Former U.S. Senator George McGovern has died.

Family members say he passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and life-long friends at 5:15 a.m. Sunday. 

In a statement, the family says they are blessed to know that McGovern "lived a long, successful and productive life advocating for the hungry, being a progressive voice for millions and fighting for peace."  They note that even after his 90th birthday, which he celebrated this summer, he continued giving speeches, writing and advising.

McGovern grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota.  He volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Force and flew 35 missions over German-occupied Europe during World War II.

McGovern was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and re-elected in 1958. In 1962, he was elected into the U.S. Senate.

McGovern became most known for his outspoken opposition to the growing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He staged a brief nomination run in the 1968 presidential election as a stand-in for the assassinated Robert F. Kennedy.

Throughout his career, McGovern has been involved in issues related to agriculture, food, nutrition and hunger. As the first director of the Food for Peace program in 1961, McGovern oversaw the distribution of U.S. surpluses to the needy abroad and was instrumental in the creation of the United Nations-based World Food Program.

In 1972, McGovern secured enough delegates at the Democratic National Convention to win the party's nomination to be the next president.

McGovern ran on a platform that supported the withdrawal from the Vietnam War in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war.  In the general election, the McGovern/Shriver ticket suffered, at the time, the second biggest landslide in American history, losing to Richard Nixon.

Later in life, McGovern went on to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was also appointed United Nations Global Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001.

But last October, McGovern was treated for exhaustion after a lecture tour. Two months later, he fell and hit his head just before a scheduled interview for a C-SPAN.

He died peacefully at the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, which he was moved to on Monday, October 15.  Details on services to be held in Sioux Falls have yet to be released.

McGovern was 90.

McGovern was preceded in death by his wife Eleanor McGovern, who died at the age of 85 back in 2007.

The family has asked that donations in his honor be made to Feeding South Dakota.

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