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Introduction

Richard Andrew Gephardt

Richard A. Gephardt was born in St. Louis on January 31, 1941. His father, Louis, was a former union truck driver and a real estate broker; his mother, Loreen, worked as a secretary to earn money to put her sons through college. Richard and his older brother Don grew up on Reber Place in south St. Louis, attending nearby Mason Elementary School and supporting his hometown Cardinals baseball team.

After graduating from Southwest High School in St. Louis, Gephardt attended Northwestern University High School Summer Institute in drama before attending the University for his undergraduate studies. He became involved in student government while there, serving as president of his fraternity, the junior men's honorary society, and the Student Senate. It was also at Northwestern that he met his future wife, Jane Ann Byrnes.

After completing his law degree at the University of Michigan in 1965, Gephardt moved back to St. Louis and became a member of the law firm of Thompson & Mitchell. He also joined the Missouri Air National Guard and in 1966 married Jane Byrnes. Now back in St. Louis, young Gephardt became involved in local politics. In 1971 ran for and won election as St. Louis Alderman for the 14th Ward, then in 1976 he ran for Leonor K. Sullivan's newly-vacated Missouri 3rd District Congressional seat, and won.

During his 28 years in Congress Gephardt served on several influential committees, including Ways and Means and the Budget. In 1984 his fellow Democrats elected him Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the youngest ever to serve in that position and the only one elected unanimously. The next year his colleagues elected him Majority Leader (later Minority Leader) and House Democratic Leader, positions he would hold throughout the rest of his tenure in office. He ran for President in 1988 and again in 2004.

Upon leaving Congress he formed his own international consulting company, the Gephardt Group. In 2006 he established the Richard A. Gephardt Institute for Public Service at Washington University in St. Louis.

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