Memorial service for longtime elected official George Hart May 13

DEARBORN – The public is invited to remember longtime councilman, state senator and county commissioner George Hart during a memorial gathering and service from 6 to 8 p.m. May 13 in Studio A of the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

Details were still being finalized as of press time, but it is expected that formal remarks, led by Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., will take place at 6:30 p.m.

On display in Studio A will be photos and news clips of Hart during his long political career, as well as campaign memorabilia. Light refreshments will be served.

Hart passed away Jan. 31 in Albuquerque, N.M. He was 88.

O’Reilly was Hart’s chief of staff in Lansing from 1980 through 1982 and again briefly in 1987 after chairing his 1986 campaign.

He remembers the gregarious Hart as a people-oriented politician.

Known as the “Singing Senator,” Hart’s approach to elected office made him a memorable character in the political landscape. But he also believed public figures had the power to make a difference.

“He may have stood out with his musical talents and colorful personality,” O’Reilly said, “but more importantly, he was also named the Legislator of the Year and was the recipient of the Steering Wheel Award from AAA of Michigan for his outstanding advocacy of traffic safety.”

“As chair of the Senate Transportation and Tourism Committee, he sponsored and helped pass the third child passenger restraint law in the country, which greatly reduced the death rate of children 4 years or younger, an accomplishment he was very proud of,” O’Reilly said.

Hart also sponsored and helped pass the first significant drunken driving reform law that included mandatory testing and license revocation.

Hart served as a Dearborn city councilman from 1958 to 1971. That year, he was appointed to the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and he remained with the county until 1978.

In 1978, he ran and was elected to the Michigan State Senate. In his bid for re-election in 1982, he was defeated by Patrick McCollough.

He was elected again in 1985 to the city council for a term that began in 1986. But he resigned from the council to run for the Senate again in 1986. He won that year and was re-elected to the Senate in 1990, 1994 and 1998.

Despite Hart’s focus on his political aspirations over the decades, he never lost sight of how important his family was to him.

And that family was expanded in December, when Hart married his longtime companion, Catherine O’Brien-Hart .

A World War II Army veteran, Hart was a regular attendee at Dearborn’s Veterans Day and Flag Day ceremonies, and enjoyed walking in the Memorial Day parade.