Former Michigan House Speaker Curtis Hertel dies at 63

Former Michigan Speaker of the House Curtis Hertel, Sr.—part of one of Michigan’s most storied political legacies—died suddenly March 27.

Hertel is survived by his wife of 42 years, Vickie; his four children, Curtis and Elizabeth Hertel, Matthew and Rachel Hertel, Lisa Hertel and Kevin and Ann Hertel; and five grandchildren, CJ, Nathan, Hailey, Lyla and Jack.

“We are absolutely devastated this morning,” said State Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr., Hertel’s oldest son. “As we celebrate the life of this consummate public servant, we look forward to sharing our love with the thousands of lives that were touched by this great man.”

Hertel—the 64th Michigan Speaker of the House—was first elected to the State House of Representatives in 1980. In all, he served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1981-98, serving as sole Speaker from 1997-98.

Hertel served in a unique shared power relationship when he was the Co-Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1993-94, as that chamber was split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. During that time, he shared the speakership with Republican Paul Hillegonds. Hertel was widely respected by Lansing insiders for his ability to work across the aisle on substantive policy developments, despite political differences.

The Hertel family is well known for their public service in Michigan political circles, with all three brothers, Curtis Sr., John and Dennis serving in political offices throughout their careers. John Hertel served in the Michigan State Senate, representing the 2nd District from 1974-82, and Dennis Hertel served in the Michigan House of Representatives, representing the 14th District from 1975-80, and then as U.S. Congressman from the Michigan 14th District from 1981-93. Hertel’s son, Curtis Jr., is serving his first term in the Michigan State Senate.

Hertel, Sr. was a proud graduate of Wayne State University.

Maritime Editorial