SCRANTON, Pa. -- The state's political elite paid respects Wednesday to William W. Scranton, a former Pennsylvania governor, presidential candidate and one of the last of a vanishing breed of moderate Northeastern Republicans.
Mr. Scranton, who died July 19 at age 96, was remembered as a selfless public servant who focused his energy and ambition on improving the lives of others. He served a single term as governor before becoming the GOP's elder statesman in Pennsylvania and a trusted adviser to presidents and aspiring politicians alike.
Gov. Tom Corbett and all four living former Pennsylvania governors -- Dick Thornburgh, Mark Schweiker, Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell -- were among the mourners gathered in the city named after Mr. Scranton's ancestors. Mr. Corbett called it a day to celebrate "a life that gave a lot to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to the United States."
Mourners filled the pews of Covenant Presbyterian Church, which the Scranton family fortune helped to build more than a century ago. They heard eulogies that touched variously on Mr. Scranton's political career, his love of Broadway musicals, his civic mindedness and his intellect.
"His acumen, ambition and accomplishment were uniquely balanced by his humility, his humanity and his wonderful sense of humor," recalled family friend Susan Belin.
Mr. Scranton was elected as Pennsylvania's 38th governor in 1962. Skilled in public relations, he took advantage of a strong economy to overhaul the state's Civil Service system, double spending on education and increase the sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent. He also oversaw creation of the state's community college system and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, now a national provider of student financial aid services. State spending increased by 38 percent during his administration.
He served a single term, the limit at the time for governors, from 1963-1967. Mr. Scranton also served a term in Congress and ran unsuccessfully for the 1964 GOP presidential nomination as a moderate alternative to conservative Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater.
Mr. Scranton left electoral politics at a relatively young age but kept a hand in public service. He chaired the presidential panel that investigated deadly campus protests at Kent State University and Jackson State College in 1970; served as United Nations ambassador under President Gerald Ford; and advised four presidents.
He remained humble despite his accomplishments and position of wealth, power and privilege, said his son, former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton.
His father had an ego like anyone else, but "he never gave his ego the keys to the car," his son told mourners. "It may at times have been the engine or the fuel, but he never let it drive him. He always had to have a reason beyond himself for doing what he did."