PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Former U.S. Sen. Bill Hathaway of Maine, who also served in the House and was a prisoner of war during World War II, has died at age 89.
U.S. Sen. Angus King, a former Senate staffer for the Democrat Hathaway, on Monday announced Hathaway's death. He called Hathaway "a dear friend" and "cherished mentor."
Maine's other U.S. Senator, Susan Collins, said that although Hathaway was in a wheelchair, he was lively and engaged the last time she saw him, in January. She said she will miss him.
Former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen, who defeated Hathaway in the Senate race in 1978, recalls Hathaway as a great public servant and a man of character. In a statement, Cohen tells NEWS CENTER Hathaway "served his country well in uniform and in the House and Senate, and he brought a good heart and a great sense of humor to his work. He was a classy person and he will be missed."
Former Sen. Olympia Snowe and her husband, former Gov. Jock McKernan issued a statement saying "We were profoundly saddened to learn of the passing of our friend Bill Hathaway. With a passionate resolve to always do what he felt was right, Bill spent his life building a distinguished legacy of public service that will forever reverberate in Maine."
Hathaway parachuted from his downed B-24 bomber and was captured in Romania in 1944. The Russians eventually liberated his prison camp.
He later set up a law practice in Maine, then won a U.S. House seat in 1964.
Hathaway won his Senate seat in 1972, defeating a Maine legend, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith. Hathaway told NEWS CENTER's Bill Green that he decided to enter that race after hearing that Smith would not be seeking re-election. But Sen. Smith changed her mind when businessman Bob Monks said he would challenge her in the Republican primary. Smith won that race, but lost to Hathaway in the general election 53% to 47%.
Hathaway served just one term in the Senate before losing to Bill Cohen.
In 14 years, Bill Hathaway saw more than 200 of his own bills enacted into law, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and an act to admit women into U.S. service academies. He stayed in Washington to practice law and chaired the Federal Maritime Commission.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.