Maine’s two senators join in tribute to Weinberger

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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) – Caspar Weinberger was remembered Tuesday as a defense secretary who took on totalitarian regimes and helped to end the Cold War – and also hid chocolate in his desk and liked to catch a daytime nap.

Weinberger, who was President Reagan’s Pentagon chief, died last week at 88 in Maine. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery after a funeral service at nearby Fort Myer Memorial Chapel attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, former Reagan officials and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell told mourners, who included Weinberger’s widow, Jane, that Weinberger’s life “rested on a bedrock of beliefs.”

And though “he became Cap the Knife’ in California and Washington,” Powell said of Weinberger’s reputation for efforts to slash government spending, “he was also … Cap the Compassionate”‘ and a man of habits, such as a daytime snooze.

The guest list at the farewell read like a who’s who of Reagan-era politics. It included former Reagan ally Thatcher, 80, who has rarely appeared in public after suffering a series of small strokes, former National Security Adviser John M. Poindexter, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and Reagan Navy Secretary John F. Lehman.

Weinberger had supported Thatcher’s decision to dispatch British forces for the Falkland Islands war in 1982.

Also in attendance were Cheney, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace and Maine’s two Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Weinberger “made changes that helped restore pride in our country’s uniform and helped win the Cold War.”

Weinberger oversaw the Pentagon’s biggest peacetime spending increase.

He later faced federal felony charges of lying and concealing notes detailing White House discussions of the Iran-Contra affair, the sale of weapons to Iran to finance secret illegal aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. Weinberger was pardoned by the first President Bush in 1992, just before he was to go to trial.

The graveside ceremony included a 19-gun salute and a bugler playing “Taps.” Weinberger’s flag-draped casket was carried on a caisson to his burial spot on a shaded hill with a view of the Washington Monument and the Pentagon.

Snowe called Weinberger “a genuine patriot” and said the world’s totalitarian governments “met their match in Caspar Weinberger.”

The senator said Weinberger adopted Maine as his home and became “the very embodiment of Maine’s independent spirit – as sturdy and resolute as our legendary, rocky coastline.”

“Indeed, it is entirely appropriate that this towering and unique figure of the closing decades of the 20th century would find a beloved home on the towering heights of one of North Americas rare fjords at majestic Somes Sound along the coast of Maine,” she said.

Recalling Weinberger’s “essential humility,” Snowe told of the time that she and her husband, former Gov. John McKernan, ran into the former Pentagon chief, dressed in a white shirt and khakis, pushing his shopping cart in an Ellsworth, Maine, supermarket.

“We like to think that was the Maine influence rubbing off. Or better yet, that of his wonderful, exceptional wife, because to know Cap was to know Jane. They were truly one soul,” Snowe said.

Born Aug. 18, 1917, in San Francisco, Weinberger graduated from Harvard in 1938 and got his law degree there in 1941. He enlisted in the Army as a private with America’s entry into World War II and came out of the war a captain.

Weinberger served as President Nixon’s budget director and later was publisher of Forbes and then chairman of Forbes Inc.

Besides his wife of 63 years, Weinberger is survived by their son, Caspar Weinberger Jr., and daughter, Arlin Weinberger.

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