Funeral services held for Rostenkowski

August 17, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The Chicago Democrat who was once one of the most powerful men in Washington. He passed away from lung cancer at the age of 82.

The service was held at St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic church -- Dan Rostenkowski's lifelong parish -- only a few steps from the North Side home his family has owned for decades.

"The most important thing at a funeral is to come and support the family, to be with them, and many people have turned out here, people that they knew, people that they didn't know," said Monsignor Kenneth Velo, Archdiocese of Chicago.

Rostenkowski spent 36 years in Congress representing Chicago's North Side. He is credited with directing billions of federal dollars to his home city and state.

"At all times, he was a great leader for cities, not only here in Chicago, but for cities across the country," said Chicago Mayor Daley.

Democrat Rostenkowski rose to the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee that during the 1980s Reagan administration virtually rewrote the nation's tax laws.

"He was a healer and a person who made compromise worthwhile," said James Houlihan, Cook County assessor.

"He had a real gift to bring the Republicans and Democrats together. I think that was a gift. I don't think we'll see anyone like that again," said Randee Estes, family friend.

A few months after his indictment on federal corruption charges in 1994, Rostenkowski lost his seat in Congress. He entered guilty pleas to two counts in 1996 and served 15 months in a federal prison.

Former alderman Terry Gabinski knew Rostenkowski 52 years and will always remember his friend's loyalty.

"I was thrilled to be known as Danny Rostenkowski's guy. And everything he could have done for me, he did," said Gabinski.

Some of those who were inside church for the funeral told ABC 7 that during the service there was very little mention, if any, of the years 1994 to 1997, the height of Dan Rostenkowski's legal troubles. The speakers' focused on the previous 36 years when he made such a difference in Chicago and the rest of the country.

Rostenkowski is survived by a wife and three daughters. His burial is planned for Tuesday at St. Adalbert Cemetery in Niles.

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