Famed American astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn once remarked, ““I’m not interested in my legacy. I made up a word: ‘live-acy.’ I’m more interested in living.”

And lived he did, as shown by the biographies that appeared as the news of his death spread quickly through social media and featured reports today.

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, died today (Dec. 8). He was 95.

The former astronaut and U.S. senator was being hospitalized at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus when he died. In 2014, Glenn suffered a minor stroke, affecting his vision, after undergoing heart-valve replacement surgery.

…The last of NASA’s original seven astronauts to die, Glenn circled the world three times on board the Mercury capsule “Friendship 7” before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on Feb. 20, 1962.

While he did lead a fascinating life for a bulk of those 95 years, it was his time in space (including his 1998 ride aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery) that inspired most people today reflecting upon the sad news.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Godspeed, Space Wanderer: Add John Glenn’s name to 2016’s awful deathlist <a href="https://twitter.com/AleteiaEN">@AleteiaEn</a> <a href="https://t.co/fTCwDRYRva">https://t.co/fTCwDRYRva</a></p>— Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheAnchoress/status/806971579301265412">December 8, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Yes, as the Anchoress Elizabeth Scalia notes, this year’s deathlist has been quite grim. As Professor Jacobson noted, the news of the passing of Greg Lake (who fronted both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer) also broke today.

Given this year’s presidential election, and the importance of the Rust Belt in the dynamics of the campaigns, it is also interesting to look back on Glenn’s career as an Ohio Senator, which spanned from late 1974 to 1999. Here is a video of him debating Walter Mondale during the 1984 Democratic Party presidential primary:

And then there was this episode:

Glenn’s only brush with negative publicity came in 1989, when he was one of five US senators embroiled in the Lincoln Savings and Keating Five Scandal, accused of improperly intervening two years earlier on behalf of Charles F. Keating, Jr., chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association.

NASA has set up a special photo gallery to commemorate Glenn’s space career.

Glenn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. He is survived by his wife, Annie; two children, David and Carolyn Ann; and two grandchildren.

I will conclude with one last Glenn quote: ““If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years on this planet, it’s that the happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve known are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest.”