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He is also remembered for his bipartisan efforts, exemplified in a longtime working friendship with Mr. Dole, Kansas Republican. In 2000, the two men founded the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Nutrition Program, a federally-funded effort to provide meals for children in the U.S. and three dozen other countries around the world.

In his later years, he worked to encourage greater civility in Washington and better public discourse on important issues.

George Stanley McGovern was born the son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister on July 19, 1922, in the small prairie town of Avon, S.D. His father, Joseph McGovern, played professional baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals but quit to attend seminary, disliking the immoral atmosphere of big league baseball. Although a lifelong Cardinals fan, young George McGovern preferred debating to sports.

While a member of his high school team, he debated (and lost to) a girl named Eleanor Stegeberg; they later fell in love and were married on Oct. 31, 1943. The couple would have five children, all born in South Dakota, and would stay together until Mrs. McGovern’s death in 2007.

When the U.S. entered World War II, Mr. McGovern was a junior at Dakota Wesleyan University. He left and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. While stationed in Italy, he flew a B-24 bomber dubbed “Dakota Queen” in 35 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He came home in 1945 a decorated first lieutenant and finished his degree at Wesleyan.

From 1949 to 1953, Mr. McGovern taught history and political science while pursuing his doctorate in history at Northwestern University.

In 1955 he left teaching to help transform the South Dakota Democratic Party. The next year he upset a popular Republican incumbent to win a U.S. House seat. His first roll-call vote was in opposition to allowing President Eisenhower military intervention authority in the Middle East. The rest of his career would be marked by outspoken support of limiting American involvement in foreign affairs.

Mr. McGovern won a second House term in 1958 but lost his first bid for the Senate in 1960. Instead, President Kennedy appointed him director of Food for Peace, a program that helped impoverished nations by sending them surplus American crops.

In 1962, Mr. McGovern attempted a second run for the Senate and this time won by 604 votes. His first speech on the floor challenged U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, specifically Cuba. Never forgetting his roots, Mr. McGovern was known as a staunch supporter of American farmers.

After Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, Mr. McGovern tried and failed to clinch his party’s nomination. His appetite whetted, he ran again four years later and received the Democratic endorsement. Adopting the slogan “Come Home, America,” Mr. McGovern’s platform was built around ending the Vietnam War, but an infamous speech delivered at 3 a.m. launched what turned out to be a disastrous campaign.

Even though he lost badly, the Nixon White House’s efforts to ensure a victory planted the seeds for the Watergate scandal that led to Mr. Nixon’s resignation. Mr. McGovern tried to highlight the break-in at the Watergate complex during the campaign, but few paid attention.

November brought a lopsided election: Mr. McGovern carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia and received only 37.5 percent of the vote.

Mr. McGovern was known to admit later that Watergate made his loss less embarrassing, since “that victorious team of ‘72 spent 180 years in prison and the President resigned in disgrace.”

He went on to win a third Senate term in 1974, but after failing to win a fourth in 1980, he made one last attempt for the White House in 1984, once again spreading his message of peace and keeping America out of foreign conflict. He dropped out of the race after losing the New Hampshire primary.

His humanitarian work dominated his later years. After serving as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome from 1998 to 2001, Mr. McGovern was appointed U.N. global ambassador on world hunger in 2001. He said that his work to end hunger is what he hopes to be remembered for.

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