John Porter East – First Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps

United States Senator

Born at Springfield, Illinois, on May 5, 1931, he received a B.A. degree from Earlham College in Indiana, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the national scholastic society.

He spent two years as a Marine Corps officer, returning to academic life after a 1955 bout with polio.

He received a law degree from the University of Illinois, a masters degree from the University of Florida and a doctorate in political science there in 1964. He was elected to the United States Senate from North Carolina in 1980 and served there from January 3, 1981 until his death.

Suffering from ill-health, he killed himself in his auto in a garage attached to his Greenville, North Carolina, home on June 29, 1986. In a 1990 news report, it was reported that his widow, Priscilla, filed a law suit against United States Navy doctors for negligence and that the suit was dismissed by a Federal Judge in Washington, D.C.. In the suit, it was indicated that he left behind a suicide note blaming Naval physicians “for ruining my health.” He is buried in Section 7-A of Arlington National Cemetery, near the Tomb of the Unknowns.


Courtesy of the Senate of the United States:

EAST, John Porter, a Senator from North Carolina; born in Springfield, Sangamon County, Ill., May 5, 1931; attended the public schools; graduated, Earlham College, Richmond, Ind., 1953; graduated, University of Illinois Law School, Urbana, 1959; earned graduate degrees from the University of Florida, Gainesville, 1962 and 1964; served in the United States Marine Corps 1953-1955; admitted to the Florida bar in 1959 and commenced practice in Naples; professor, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C., 1964-1980; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1980 and served from January 3, 1981, until his death by suicide, June 29, 1986, in Greenville, N.C.; interment in Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer, Virginia.






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