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Nancy Landon Kassebaum

Portrait of Nancy Landon Kassebaum, 1991Politician, businesswoman. Republican. Born July 29, 1932, Topeka, Kansas. Served in U.S. Senate: December 23, 1978, to January 3, 1997.

Nancy Landon was born July 29, 1932, in Topeka, Kansas, to Alfred M. and Theo (Cobb) Landon. Shortly after her birth, her father became the 26th governor of Kansas. Alfred Landon was the 1936 Republican nominee for president. Nancy Landon graduated from the University of Kansas and the University of Michigan with a master’s in diplomatic history. She married Philip Kassebaum in 1956. They raised four children.

Active in the family business and a member of the Maize school board, Kassebaum took a job in Senator James B. Pearson's office in 1975. When he chose not to seek reelection in 1978, Kassebaum entered the race and won a hard fought primary and general election. She was the first woman to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate.

Senator-elect Kassebaum officially took office on December 23, 1978. She served as chairman of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources (104th Congress). Kassebaum was known for her work on health care and co-sponsored the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. She was reelected in 1984 and 1990. Senator Kassebaum chose not to seek reelection in 1996. On December 7, 1996, shortly before leaving office, she married former Tennessee senator Howard H. Baker, Jr.

She was the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas' Distinguished Kansan of the Year in 1978. She has been involved in numerous efforts since her retirement including the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy. Kassebaum Baker was instrumental in the creation of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, comprising 10,894 acres in the Flint Hills.

It has been said I am riding on the coattails of my dad, but I can't think of any better coattails to ride on.—Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker

View primary sources for Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker in Kansas Memory.

Entry: Kassebaum, Nancy Landon

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: May 2009

Date Modified: November 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.