Ambitious enough to take on his own party -- yet compassionate enough to take on an unpopular cause.
That's the legacy left by Missouri's 46th Governor, according to friends and political luminaries who honored William Hearnes at a state funeral in Jefferson City Wednesday.
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"Governor Hearnes may be remembered best as a beacon of hope for those who suffer from mental illness," said Gov. Jay Nixon, who delivered the eulogy. "At a time when the stigma of mental illness forced many to suffer in silence and live in a shadow, he spoke out on their behalf."
"In his work for children, the mentally ill, minority groups, and all Missourians, Governor Hearnes walked the path shown to us in the Gospel . . . that, 'Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do unto me,' That is Governor Hearnes' legacy, and his example to each of us," Nixon said.
"Governor saw the needs. He saw the great needs of mental health, he saw the great needs of education. In fact, the people did not pass a tax increase, he put it through the legislature because he know it was needed. It was the best thing for the state," said Gracia Backer, a former Callaway County state lawmaker, who's best friends with Hearnes' wife Betty.
"He did a great deal for higher education, probably as much as any Governor ever did," said Congressman Ike Skelton, who supported Hearnes' opponent Hilary Bush back in 1964. "He turned out to be an excellent Governor and we're proud of his legacy. He was bright as a tact, he was a good Governor. And I think his legacy will live on."