Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder and other dignitaries gathered on a chilly Capitol mall Wednesday to dedicate a walkway in honor of former Attorney General Frank Kelley, who set a national record for length of service in that office.
At the formal ribbon cutting for the Frank J. Kelley Capitol Walkway, Snyder noted the honoree also holds the records for “having been our youngest attorney general (36) and our oldest attorney general (74).” Kelley served as state government’s top legal adviser from 1961 to 1998 — 37 years.
The relatively brief ceremonies were filled with tributes to Kelley’s honesty, integrity and special dedication to the twin interests of consumer and environmental protection.
“Frank Kelley helped lead the charge in those two critical areas,” the Republican governor said about the longtime Democrat.
But it was the man dubbed “The Eternal General” who stole the show with humor-laced remarks. He opened by noting that “usually these activities are conducted posthumously” and concluded by telling attendees they should be grateful because “this is the shortest speech I’ve ever made.”
Kelley, 88, humbly gave credit to his parents and others he said made possible his longevity in office, including his many former assistant attorneys’ general. Many of them attended the dedication.
“I remain optimistic about the future for myself and my fellow man,” he said.
The walkway, which runs between state government office buildings, extends about 2½ blocks from the Capitol to the imposing Hall of Justice housing the state’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Current Attorney General Bill Schuette last year also honored Kelley by naming the law library in his office suite after him.
Schuette’s remarks included comments he said he was asked to present from a phone conversation with ex-Gov. James Blanchard, who described Kelley as an “exercise fanatic.”
“He tried to be my body-building adviser, but I failed the test,” Blanchard added through Schuette.
Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, chief sponsor of unanimously passed legislation naming the walkway after Kelley, noted it passes between building named after two of his iconic public-office contemporaries: William Milliken, governor from 1969 to 1983, and Richard Austin, secretary of state from 1971 to 1995.
It’s appropriate to have the Capitol Mall walkway named for Kelley, Bieda said, because his long service in public office was “a wonderful journey.”
the nation’s longest-serving