Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sen. Sessions floor statement

Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I thank my colleague Senator Shelby for recalling the remarkable facts of the life of Mayer Bubba Mitchell, one of Mobile's great citizens, a national leader, as well as a local leader, someone who has friends throughout the country and the world.

It is remarkable, the extent of his reach and impact. He had a clear vision. He wanted his life to be a life that made the world a better place. He worked at that. He had a strong will to do that. Senator Shelby and I were talking about that this morning. It was remarkable. He had an ability to get things accomplished. To me, one of his most remarkable characteristics was the fact that he could have many different activities going on, but he always seemed to complete each one of them and get it done successfully.

At a final AIPAC banquet he attended, realizing it would be his last--it was recalled at his funeral service Friday--he asked these questions about himself but really applying to others. I think it would apply to all of us in the Senate. Knowing that he would not be back, he asked: Have I done enough? Have I done my best? Have I made a difference? All of us ought to ask those questions more and would probably be better performers when we do.

His wonderful partner Arlene is such a fabulous person, so well liked, a former Mobilian of the year. She is so gracious. His son Richard spoke so movingly at his memorial service. His son-in-law Jimmy Grodnick likewise, married to his wonderful daughter Joy, made remarks. His grandchildren read from the Talmud such wonderful passages that reflected his values. His brother Abe, who has been a partner in business and in so many of these activities, told me afterwards it wasn't over. He still had things he wanted to do and he would continue to work at them. I know that is exactly what Mayer would have liked.

The business school I visited at the University of South Alabama is so well endowed by the Mitchell family. The athletics center, the Mitchell Center, is where his memorial service was held, the sports complex. And perhaps in the long term, the greatest financial investment he and his family made is in the Mitchell Cancer Center that will be a place for research as well as treatment of those who have suffered with cancer, because he felt so blessed, having been allowed to survive what many said at the time was a fatal disease.

So many people came from all over the country to that service, it was really remarkable, including the Republican leader in the Senate, MITCH MCCONNELL, who himself came down and was an honorary pallbearer. He was on a first-name basis with Presidents. Indeed, I am aware that President Bush called him twice in recent months. Foreign leaders, Senators, and Congressmen were on a first-name basis with him. His life is a testament to what can happen when a person focuses his life on making a positive difference in the world and living a good life. He accomplished those things. Probably outside of a public official, he was on a first-name basis with more Senators than maybe any other person in our country. There may be some others, but not many would know as many and be as well respected as he was over the years.

I appreciate the opportunity to make these remarks. Not only did he serve on the board, chairman of the board of the University of South Alabama for 32 years, he gave hours and hours of his time and attention and ideas and ability to making that the great university it is. So he not only gave money, he gave of his time and of himself to make it the great university it is. Gordon Moulton, the president, certainly reflected that in his remarks.

I thank the Chair and Senator Shelby for his excellent remarks and yield the floor.

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