The man who followed him into the state's top office wishes more politicians would emulate Lee Dreyfus. Former Governor Tony Earl says the two men had became friends years before entering state politics, when Earl was a Wausau attorney and Dreyfus was at of UW Stevens Point. "I'll remember how generous and friendly he always was," says Earl.
Dreyfus, a Republican who served as the state's fortieth governor from 1979 to 1983, died Wednesday at age 81. Earl says Dreyfus got along with most everyone, Democrats and Republicans, while disproving the conventional political wisdom. "That is, you don't have to have several million dollars, you don't have to attack and diminish your opponent. We'd all be better off if more people played the game by those kinds of rules."
Bill Kraus was a longtime friend and advisor to Dreyfus. He says Dreyfus ran the most open administration Wisconsin had ever seen: "no press releases, but total access for the press to both him and administration." Kraus calls Dreyfus "the most delightful candidate I ever worked with . . . and he loved people."
What will Lee Dreyfus be remembered for? Earl cites his leadership on human rights. "I think he'll be remembered for championing the anti-discrimination law to include gay and lesbian people," says Earl, calling Dreyfus' action "a breathtakingly courageous thing to do, in that time." Kraus says Dreyfus believed his signal accomplishment was budgeting for the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, knowing that the school would be a hub of research that would benefit Wisconsin's future.