Longtime northeast Missouri congressman Harold Volkmer has died in Hannibal. Volkmer was 80 and had been fighting pneumonia for some time. Although he was born in Jefferson City, he considered Hannibal his home.
Volkmer was elected to Congress in 1976 and represented northeast Missouri for 20 years. Before that he was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives for a decade. He lost a bid for an 11th term to Kenny Hulshof in 1996.
Political leaders who worked with Volkmer during his decade in the Missouri House and two decades in the United States House remember him as a colorful legislator who was passionate about his causes, a supporter of gun rights, an opponent of abortion, a leader during his days in the state legislature of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and an advocate for civil rights. He was a strong supporter of the 1982 extension of the federal voting rights act, the extension of the Fair Housing Act six years later and the expansion of various environmental laws.
He told the Hannibal Courier-Post a few months ago that Jimmy Carter was the best president he worked under because he “never tried to fool” people. He had little good to say about Carter’s successor, calling Ronald Reagan “a joke.”
Volkmer thought that President Obama has done a “terrific job under the circumstances,” referring to actions by Republicans that he considered obstructionist. But he conceded that members of his party were obstructionists when Republicans were in control. The Courier-Post has posted its interviews with him on YouTube.