The phrase "only in America" has a special meaning for Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. Lautenberg began his life as the son of poor, but hard-working immigrant parents. But following his parent's example, Lautenberg rolled up his sleeves and pursued the American dream. And he succeeded, first as a businessman and founder of a major computing services firm, and then as a U.S. Senator with much major legislation to his credit. After 18 years of service, Lautenberg retired in 2000, but he is back to serve again, the state and the people that have given him so much.
Senator Lautenberg was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of Polish and Russian immigrants who had come to the United States through Ellis Island. His early life was a struggle. His parents moved about a dozen times in their constant pursuit of work. Lautenberg's father, Sam, worked in the silk mills, sold coal, farmed and once ran a tavern. When Lautenberg was 19, his father died of cancer. To help his family, he worked nights and weekends until he graduated from Nutley High School.
After graduating from Nutley high school, Lautenberg enlisted and served in the Army Signal Corps in Europe during World War II. Following the war, he went to Columbia University on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a degree in economics in 1949.
With his education secured, Lautenberg set out to build a career. He soon joined with two boyhood friends from his old neighborhood and helped found the nation's first payroll services company, Automatic Data Processing. Lautenberg -- serving as chairman and CEO -- along with his partners, developed ADP into one of the largest computing services company in the world.
From CEO to Senator: A new career and another success
Sen. Lautenberg always knew that his success was a uniquely American story. He wanted to give something back to the nation that had given him so much. He decided to launch a new career in politics and -- running for the first time -- was elected to the Senate in 1982 and was re-elected in 1988 and 1994. He was elected to a fourth term after two years away, and is the first Senator from New Jersey to have held both seats.
Over his first three terms in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Lautenberg built a solid record of accomplishment on a broad variety of issues critical to New Jersey -- from helping to balance the budget, to stopping aid to states that support terrorism, to banning domestic abusers from owning guns, to tightening drunk driving standards, to strengthening our commitment to the environment, to improving our transportation system. He also has pushed strongly for a variety of other measures to address the needs of New Jersey families, such a prescription drug benefit under Medicare, a Patients Bill of Rights, and measures to prevent retirement funds from being used for other purposes.
Senator Lautenberg co-authored the Ryan White Act to assist in providing services to AIDS patients. Lautenberg is also an unfailing supporter of a woman's constitutional right to choose. He strongly believes in maintaining access to women's health care clinics and protecting them from violence.
Promoting equal opportunity for women is a priority for Senator Lautenberg. That is why, in part, he supports raising the minimum wage which is particularly beneficial for low-income working families and single mothers.
Senator Lautenberg plans to continue to fight for the working families of New Jersey and the nation. In a place that's often plagued with gridlock, he has always been someone who has bucked the rules that favor delays and indecision and has persisted in making a difference. Senator Lautenberg resides in Cliffside Park and is the father of four and the grandfather of 10.
Source: Senate. Photo U.S. Senate Historical Office.