GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Regardless of what you thought about former Sen. Carl Levin’s politics, there was no questioning his integrity.
Whether he was grilling financial industry leaders on deals made leading up to the Great Recession, or questioning military leaders as the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, you always knew where he stood.
Michigan’s longest serving U.S. Senator died Thursday at the age of 87.
Levin’s tenacity, honesty and work ethic inspired many along the way, including Grandville’s Paul Troost, who worked for the senator for 27 years as his regional representative based in Grand Rapids.
“He just really cared about people. He cared about all people. He taught me so many things, so many things about integrity,” said Troost, who began as an intern for Levin right out of college and eventually joined his staff.
He recalled Friday the lessons learned from his former boss.
“He just taught me so much about work ethic. About what it really means to put people’s interest ahead of your own,” Troost said. “Try to keep up with this guy! I was exhausted after a couple of days on the road with him, and he would just keep going and going.”
There were also a few life hack lesson along the way.
“Like how to preserve a sandwich in your suit pocket with a fresh newspaper,” recalled Troost.
Levin retired from the Senate in 2014 and from a very different Washington.
His liberal credentials were never in question, but long time Senate colleague and friend Sen. John McCain praised the senator from across the aisle on his retirement for his bipartisanship as chairman of Armed Services.
“He had a lot of friends across the aisle. McCain was one of them. (Wyoming Senator) Alan Simpson was one of his closest friends. Boy, those guys were very far apart on the ideological spectrum, but Carl just loved his sense of humor,” Troost said.
He loved the service to his country, something reflected in Levin’s final address to the body he served for 36 years.
“I will love my work until my last day here. And I will leave here with unabashed confidence in the Senate’s ability to weather storms and to meet the nation’s needs,” Levin told the chamber.
“It was an honor to work for Senator Levin for so long. And I certainly felt that way every day, and an honor to serve the people of West Michigan, and work for them through him,” Troost said. “There are very few people in elected office I could say that same thing about and that I probably could have worked for, personally.”