US Senator. An heir to the Lorillard Tobacco fortune, he was married to Nuala O'Donnell, one of the heirs to the A&P fortune. Pell graduated from Princeton University in 1940 and served in the Coast Guard during World War II, afterwards remaining in the Coast Guard Reserve. He received a master's degree from Columbia University in 1946 and became a State Department foreign service officer, serving in Europe and Washington. In 1960 he ran successfully for the Senate as a Democrat. Pell won reelection five times, served from 1961 until 1997, and was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee from 1987 to 1995. His achievements include the creation of Pell Grants, which provide financial aid to college students, as well as creation of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. During the 1993 fight over the nomination of Roberta Achtenberg, a lesbian, to a post with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Pell revealed that his daughter was a lesbian, and said he didn't see why sexual orientation should prevent pursuit of a career in government, which helped obtain approval of Achtenberg's nomination and made her the first openly gay person confirmed by the Senate. Rhode Island's Newport Bridge was renamed for him, and the Pell Center was established at Newport's Salve Regina University. He was the son of Congressman Herbert Claiborne Pell, Jr, and a direct descendant of George M. Dallas and the Claiborne Family, several of whose members also served in Congress. He died from complications of Parkinson's disease.
Bio by: Bill McKern
Nuala O'Donnell Pell