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Abraham Ribicoff

1910- 1998

Secretary of Health, Education

and Welfare

Abraham Ribicoff was born on April 9, 1910, in New Britain, Connecticut, to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland. He attended New York University and was awarded a law degree cum laude from the University of Chicago in 1933.

Ribicoff served two terms as a representative to the Connecticut House of Representatives (1938-1942) and two terms as a police court judge in Hartford, Connecticut (1941-43, 1945-47).

In 1948, he was elected to the US House of Representatives as a Democrat, then reelected in 1950. Although he was defeated in his 1952 bid for the US Senate, he became governor of Connecticut two years later.

Ribicoff's administrative efficiency and non-partisan attitude made him so popular that he was reelected in 1958 by the largest margin in Connecticut history. An early supporter of John F. Kennedy's Presidential aspirations, Ribicoff was appointed Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in 1961.

Ribicoff supported administrative programs such as Medicare, Youth Fitness and Equal Employment Opportunity. A few months after resigning from the Cabinet in 1962, he was elected to the Senate, and then reelected in 1968 and 1974. In the Senate, Ribicoff promoted consumer protection legislation, pollution controls and aid to cities. In 1981, he retired after a distinguished Senate career of almost two decades.