US Senator, US Congressman. A member of the Republican Party, he served Illinois' 16th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives from 1933 until 1949. He served as United States Senator from the State of Illinois from 1951 until his death. Born a twin of his brother in Pekin, Illinois, the son of German immigrants, his parents chose to give Everett the middle name McKinley after the governor of Ohio, William McKinley whom went onto become the 25th President of the United States. Everett lost his father to a massive stroke at the age of five leaving his mother to raise her family on a meager income from their small farm. He enrolled at the University of Minnesota where studied Liberal Arts and Law but would leave college prior to receiving a degree in order to serve with the United States Army during World War I. Upon his return home, he established a wholesale bakery business with his brother for which became very successful and additionally he acted in local theater where he met his wife Louella. He attained his law degree and commence practicing in his hometown of Pekin in 1936. Dirksen developed an interest in the political arena and in 1932 won election to the United States Congress in spite of negativism towards Republicans. While serving in Congress, he immersed himself in learning the on goings of Washington and was highly astute with the contents of all legislation he dealt with. He crossed party lines and worked with the the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration to pass the "New Deal" programs as he recognized the country's needs were more important than partisanship. Prior to the United States' entry into World War II, Dirksen announced his support for President Roosevelt's foreign policies and following the war's conclusion he backed President Harry S. Truman's initiative in providing aid to Europe for which included the Marshall Plan. He left Congress in 1949 due to an eye illness and following his recovery he was elected to the United States Senate from his home state of Illinois. During his tenure in the Senate, he supported President Dwight D. Eisenhower's agenda and was a voice for the existence of Israel. He advocated civil rights, equality for women, aid to education and additional benefits for social security. By the time John F. Kennedy became president, Dirksen held a high stance within the Senate. He served as the Republican Whip from 1957 to 1959 and the Republican Minority Leader from 1959 until his death. In 1962, he contributed to the passage of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and during President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration he worked with the president in order to pass the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. Had it not been for Dirksen's effort the legislation more than likely would never have came to fruition. Dirksen whom suffered from a variety of health ailments died while still in office on September 7th, 1969. He was the father-in-law of Senator Howard Baker. In 1981 he was honored with a United States Postage Stamp.
Bio by: C.S.
Louella Carver Dirksen