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Former press secretary for Bob Dole looks back on working with Kansas icon

Walter Riker, left, spent more than a dozen years working as press secretary for Senator Bob Dole
Walter Riker, left, spent more than a dozen years working as press secretary for Senator Bob Dole(Walter Riker)
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 10:22 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As national leaders on Thursday were among the many paying final respects to Senator Bob Dole in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, one man in Washington, D.C. who worked closely with the Kansas icon for more than a dozen years spoke about that experience. Walter Riker spent those years working as Dole’s press secretary.

“My desk was right next to his door in the Capitol and when he opened the door, there as Bob Dole,” Riker said.

He described working for Senator Dole to being in the Big Leagues, with many long hours and tough challenges.

“I thought I knew all this stuff. No, I went to the Bob Dole school of grammar and it was tough stuff,” Riker said.

On Capitol Hill, he said Dole was a master at what he did.

“(He) never gave up on finding solutions, and 99 percent of the time, he found a solution,” Riker said “It wasn’t just caving in. That wasn’t Bob Dole’s spirit.”

Riker said Senator Dole exemplified integrity, hard work and endurance. He said Dole was also unique.

“Kansas wit, those one-liners just came out of nowhere,” he said. “That was kind of a side of Bob Dole that maybe not a lot of people saw.”

Riker said experiences like traveling to about 60 countries with Dole to meet world leaders is something he’ll never forget, but one fact was clear: the senator remembered where he was from.

“...When you grow in in the Depression and Dust Bowl out in Russell, Kansas, where during tough times, they had to move as a family into their own basement and then rent out the upstairs to oil wildcatters,” he said.

Riker said he last spoke with Dole this summer.

“He was calling to thank me of all people for everything I’ve done for him,” Riker said.

Now, he’s among many in the nation’s capital saying goodbye.

“The thing that meant the most to me after the many years was earning the trust and confidence of a tower icon like Bob Dole,” Riker said.

Services for Senator Dole continue Friday, Dec. 10, in Washington, D.C. before he returns to Kansas and his hometown of Russell.

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