Burdick, Quentin N. (Quentin Northrup), 1908-1992

Alternative names
Birth 1908-06-19
Death 1992-09-08

Biographical notes:

Source: Quentin N. Burdick, Late a Senator from North Dakota: Memorial Addresses Delivered in Congress. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992. "Quentin Northrop Burdick was born in Munich, North Dakota on June 19, 1908. His parents were Usher L. Burdick and the former Emma C. Robertson of Park River. The family moved to Williston when he was 2. Quentin Burdick enjoyed breaking wild ponies on his father's ranch in Williston. He was president of his class and captain of Williston High School's undefeated football team in his senior year. He continued his football career at the University of Minnesota, where he blocked for future Hall-of-Famer Bronko Nagurski. Besides football and wrestling honors, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Science, Literature and the Arts and graduated from law school with a Letters of Law degree. Both his parents had received degrees from the University of Minnesota. Mr. Burdick entered law practice in Fargo with his father in 1932. As head of the North Dakota Holiday Association which advised farmers to take a holiday against foreclosures, Usher Burdick told farmers who couldn't afford an attorney to go see his son, who could help them stall for time. In 1934, Usher Burdick was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served 10 terms, from 1934 to 1944 and 1948 to 1958. Mr. Burdick married Marietta Janecky of New Prague, Minnesota, in March 1933. They had four children-Jonathan, Jan Mary, Jennifer and Jessica. "Young Burdick" quickly became immersed in politics, becoming active in the new Non-Partisan League (NPL), which was allied with the Republicans until 1956. The progressive-populist group nominated him for State's Attorney twice, in 1934 and 1940, and for State Senator from Cass County in 1936. He ran for Lt. Governor as a Republican in 1942. He lost all four races.

Thinking that the NPL was dividing the State's progressive vote, Quentin Burdick began to advocate filing in the Democratic column. He lost his fifth campaign, this time as a Democratic candidate for Governor. In 1956, both the Democrats and the NPL endorsed Quentin Burdick as their candidate for the U.S. Senate. It was his sixth and final defeat. In 1958, the same year he lost his wife to cancer, he received the Democratic-NPL endorsement for Congress and became the first Democrat to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from North Dakota. Congressman Burdick was rightfully proud of his role in switching the NPL to the Democratic column and bringing order to North Dakota politics. Congressman Burdick focused on agriculture and water projects. He was appointed to serve on the House Interior Committee. He sought that assignment to promote the Garrison Diversion Project to provide North Dakota with Missouri River water to compensate the State for losses associated with the construction of the Garrison Dam, which provided flood control for downstream states. He never lost that commitment to Garrison Diversion. After serving less than two years in the House of Representatives, Quentin Burdick ran in a June 1960 special election to fill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Senator William "Wild Bill" Langer. It was a close election, with the winning edge coming in the late returns from the Indian reservations. Mr. Burdick beat John Davis by just 1,118 votes. Nine days after winning the special election, Senator-elect Burdick married Jocelyn Birch Peterson of Fargo and adopted her two children, Leslie and Birch. They had one son, Gage, who was killed in a tragic accident. Senator Burdick served on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee from 1960 to 1973. He transferred from the Labor and Welfare Committee to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1963, where he was a leader in rewriting bankruptcy legislation. He served on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and would have become chairman in 1977, the year the committee was dissolved. He switched over to the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

Because of his interest in public works, Senator Burdick joined the Public Works Committee in 1973, and became Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee in 1987. His first actions as chairman were to pass major highway and clean water legislation, having to override presidential vetoes in both cases. He was also a key player in enacting the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. Besides chairing the Environment and Public Works Committee and Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Burdick served on the Special Committee on Aging and the Select Committee on Indian Affairs. He also co-chaired the Senate Health Caucus which he founded with former Senator Mark Andrews (R-ND). Senator Burdick was honored with the National Telephone Cooperative Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. Other honors include Minot State University's C.P. Lura Award, the Farmers Union Award for Meritorious Service to American Agriculture and the National Rural Health Association's Leadership Award, the Home Builders Institute's Policymaker of the Year in 1988, and the National Rural Water Association's Friend of Rural Water in 1987. On September 8, 1992, Senator Burdick died in Fargo, ND. He was 84 Years old. Senator Burdick is survived by his wife Jocelyn; six children: Jonathan, Jan Mary, Jennifer, Jessica, Birch and Leslie; seven grandchildren; a brother, Judge Eugene Burdick of Williston, and a sister, Eileen Levering of Ohio. Mrs. Burdick was appointed by the Governor of North Dakota on September 12, 1992 to fill the seat caused by Quentin Burdick's death. She was sworn into office on September 16 and served until a special election was held on December 4, 1992, to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term."

From the description of Papers, 1958-1968 (University of North Dakota). WorldCat record id: 613705218


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