Bob Dole was one of the most influential figures in the history of the United States Senate. Possibly in the history of American politics in general, no matter the office.

Dole would come ever so close to holding the offices of president and vice president of the United States. Nonetheless, the Kansas Republican would still become the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate twice. Earlier this year, Dole announced that he'd been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, as noted by CNN.

Passed away on December 5, 2021

Bob Dole died on December 5, reportedly in his sleep.

Dole had been dealing with lung cancer, stage IV level. Over the years, he'd battled through a variety of significant health issues, including cancer. He faced other health issues, including an abdominal aortic aneurysm and an intracranial hemorrhage.

Dole was also famously partially paralyzed due to his service in the military. He was left unable to use his right arm. Often time, he kept a pen lodged in his right hand. The intent was to avoid awkward situations, such as someone mistakenly shaking that hand. After his injury, Dole would become a prominent advocate for disabled veterans. His passing comes a month after that of former Georgia Democratic U.S. Senator Max Cleland. Another severely injured military veteran who went on to champion for likewise causes.

He was a political icon

Dole's first political office was as a Kansas House of Representatives member. Later, he became the county attorney of Russell County in central Kansas.

In 1960, Dole was elected to the first of four terms in the United States House of Representatives. Initially, he represented the 6th District of Kansas.

After the abolishment of that District, he switched to the state's 1st District.

In 1968, longtime Kansas Republican U.S. Senator Frank Carlson did not run for re-election. Dole would win the Republican party nomination to succeed Carlson over former Governor William H. Avery. He then went on to win the general election with ease.

Eventually, Dole was re-elected to the Senate four times. All but one of which was in landslide fashion.

He became known for his witty humor, as The Wall Street Journal documented. At one point, Dole also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee. He chaired the Senate Finance Committee and was the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Eventually, he was selected to lead the Senate Republican Conference. As such, Dole twice became the Senate majority leader and served as the minority leader in between.

Had things gone differently with the 1976 Presidential election, Dole would've become the U.S. vice president. Instead, however, the job went to Democratic Minnesota U.S.

Senator Walter Mondale. Mondale also passed away earlier this year.

Thrice, Bob Dole threw his hat in the ring for president of the United States. His first attempt never really got him anywhere close to the Republican nomination. A second attempt fared better in 1988. But still came up short against U.S. Vice President and eventual general election winner George H.W. Bush.

Finally, Dole captured the nomination in 1996. But he was ultimately unsuccessful in the general election. During his Presidential campaign, he resigned his Senate seat. His seat remained in Republican control. Kansas Governor Bill Graves appointed Lieutenant Governor Sheila Frahm to succeed Dole. Senate Republicans elected Mississippi Senator Trent Lott as their new leader.

Effectively also making Lott the new majority leader.

Dole received the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1989 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997. In 2018, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Was an Army officer during World War II

Growing up, Bob Dole's family was friends with another local family - the Specters. One of its members, Arlen Specter, would serve alongside Dole in the Senate one day. Elected from Pennsylvania, Specter would chair the Senate's Intelligence, Veterans' Affairs and Judiciary committees.

In his youth, Dole aspired to be a physician. He was also gifted great athletic prowess, enough to be a multi-sport star at the University of Kansas. He'd been recruited to the university by legendary basketball coach Phog Allen.

Dole's studies were interrupted when he joined the United States Army to serve in World War II. He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division. In Italy, he was catastrophically injured in combat. Initially, it was thought that he wouldn't survive his wounds. Dole would survive but would battle through other life-threatening complications as time went on. After the war, he retired from the Army as a captain. In 2019, the United States Congress unanimously voted to bestow upon him the rank of colonel.

Unable to use one of his arms, Dole's dreams of being a medical doctor were dashed. Instead, he would become a lawyer. He attended the University of Arizona before graduating from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.