John Dingell: The Dean from Michigan

John Dingell: The Dean from Michigan
December 4, 2018 paperlesslion

Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell sat down with Detroit Public TV’s Nolan Finley to talk about his life, his work in Congress and his new book, “The Dean: The Best Seat in The House.” Watch the interview on or when it airs on “One Detroit” this Sunday at 9 a.m. on DPTV (56.1).

In his 60-plus years of public service, Mr. Dingell represented Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he fought for civil rights, universal and affordable healthcare, clean water, the auto industry and its workers, and much more. Previously, he had served as an officer of the United States Army on active duty during World War II.

Details from DPTV:

Rep. John Dingell was the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history and one of its most powerful chairs, who helped draft and enact some of the most important legislation in the past century – from the Civil Rights Act to the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts to perhaps his crowning accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act.

Serving his downriver constituency for 59 years, he has had a remarkable and truly historic career.

Nolan Finley – part of Detroit Public TV’s One Detroit team – had an opportunity to sit down with Dingell for a one-on-one interview on the eve of Tuesday’s release of his new autobiography, “The Dean: The Best Seat in the House (Harper Collins),” to reminisce about his family, his life, the democratic ideals that inspired him and his decades of behind-the-scenes or very public battles over the crucial issues of our time.

You can watch this enlightening and at times poignant conversation on It will also air Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on DPTV’s “One Detroit” (repeated at 9 a.m. on Sunday).

A Democrat, Dingell served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1955 to 2015—the longest tenure of anyone in Congressional history. The son of a Congressman, Dingell worked in his father’s office from childhood and became a House page in 1938, when he was just 11 years old. Retiring from Congress at the age of 89, he witnessed some of the most significant events that have shaped our nation and the world. He was in the House chambers the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when Pres. Franklin Roosevelt gave his Day of Infamy speech.

In his talk with Finley, he describes his family’s Polish roots and how his father, the eventual Congressman, tried to make a living selling watermelons in Texas for five cents apiece. His father went on to become one of the champions of the New Deal and Social Security.

John Dingell shared his father’s passionate desire to expand national health care. He would introduce his father’s legislation every year in Congress, and he was by Pres. Obama’s side when he signed the Affordable Care Act into law. He tells Finley about the reaction he receives nowadays when he walks into a hospital.

He also speaks about his wife, Debbie Dingell, who now occupies his House seat and who he claims is “a better Congressman than her husband was.”

This is personal history meets American history, and it makes fascinating viewing. Be sure to watch and post your comments on One Detroit’s Facebook page.