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Edgar remembers Eleanor McGovern
as a ‘great woman of faith and unity’

New York, January 29, 2007 – Persons of faith and those devoted to the unity of the church knew Eleanor McGovern better than most Americans did, the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, said today. 

Eleanor McGovern, the wife of former U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, died January 25 at her home in Mitchell, S.D. She was 85. 

“Most Americans over 40 remember when she stood at her husband’s side in 1972 when he accepted the nomination to run against Richard Nixon for the presidency,” Edgar said. “They remember her as a gracious and generous woman who shared her husband’s commitment to peace and justice.” 

Church people knew where that commitment came from, Edgar added. “She was a great Methodist, a great lay leader and a stalwart proponent of the ecumenical vision to realize the prayer of Jesus for his followers, ‘that they all may be one.’” 

Edgar, a Methodist clergyman and former six-term congressman from Pennsylvania who knew both McGoverns, said Eleanor McGovern remained committed to her alma mater, Dakota Weslyan University, and lived to see the university dedicate a library in her husband’s name in October 2006.

Both George and Eleanor McGovern devoted much of their time to supporting their church and its ecumenical commitments. The Rev. Theodore Gill, an American who serves as senior editor in the World Council of Churches’ Publications and Research, recalls meeting Eleanor and George McGovern in 1968 at the WCC’s Fourth Assembly in Uppsala, Sweden. The McGoverns were United Methodist delegates. 

“I was the steward assigned to escort them to their dormitory room,” Gill recalls. “He was a U.S. Senator just weeks away from declaring his candidacy for president in order to hold some of the 1968 delegates who had been pledged to Robert Kennedy,” who was assassinated in June 1968. 

“How many of the current presidential candidates would let the WCC house them in a university dormitory room?” Gill asked, rhetorically.

NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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