TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) -- Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, who guided the southern state through a period of school busing to achieve integration in the 1970s, died early Thursday. He was 85.
Ron Sachs, a former aide, told The Associated Press that Askew died surrounded by family members at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.
Askew rose from obscurity in the Florida Legislature to become the Democrats' surprise gubernatorial nominee in 1970 and then beat the incumbent Republican, Claude Kirk.
Askew's eight years in office coincided with the end of the Vietnam War, Watergate and dramatic social change across the nation.
Askew was a liberal on racial issues and crusaded for overhauling the state's tax laws, open government, environmental protection, ethics legislation and streamlining the courts and other governmental agencies.