By Dave Hageman, President

Never has there been a public servant who loves Missouri as much as Kit Bond. He traveled to every corner of the state and fought tirelessly for conservative values that went to benefit all Missourians.

I first met Senator Bond as an intern in Washington, D.C. I clocked into work on September 3rd, 2001 and was evacuated from the building 8 days later. The atmosphere in the capital was never the same afterward.

It was in that environment that I was first introduced to my home-state senator. He was a gracious and thoughtful leader. Much of my career and many subsequent opportunities came from the experiences I shared with his staff and our work together for the safety and prosperity of America.

Now, as President of Victory Enterprises, it was my privilege to help honor Kit Bond and recognize all he has done to serve Missouri. Our team assisted in his 80th Birthday celebration this year, culling through hours and hours of archival footage that told the story of his work and legacy.

One thing universally known about Kit is his willingness to sacrifice for others. When I worked as a field representative in 2002, we were fighting for the first Republican majority in the state house in nearly five decades. Kit generously gave his time to help potential state legislators raise funds and draw crowds in a way few senators ever had. His love for Missouri and his belief in conservative principles drove him to fight for the cause every chance he had.

Kit Bond wasn’t arrogant or proud. His career in public service had been marked by both success and failure, wins and losses. If anything, I believe this gave him a better understanding of the work and taught him humility and thankfulness for each new opportunity. He sought to bring this out in other people as well and encouraged up-and-coming public servants to remember that they serve Missouri first. Win or lose, he believed the role of the candidate was always to act in the best interest of the people of our state.

His strong sense of duty revealed itself in 2008 when fellow senator John McCain faced a tough presidential race. At the time, Missouri was considered a “bellwether state” for presidential elections and was a key target in his victory strategy. Although they had no deep friendship, Kit Bond was determined to help Senator McCain succeed.

As the 2008 presidential race had been heating up, I left my job as Director of HRCC to join Victory Enterprises and start their Missouri operations. My wife was expecting our first baby. While I was excited about the McCain campaign, I felt like I had my hands full. Jason Van Eaton called me and asked if I would consider being State Director. I said no.

A few days later, Kit Bond called and asked if I would reconsider. No one says no to Kit, so I accepted the position and ran the office. Thanks to Kit’s leadership, we won the only targeted state in McCain’s campaign by 3,632 votes.

Kit Bond’s years in public service created a better Missouri and a stronger state for the next generation to inherit. Current lawmakers would do well to model themselves after his relentless generosity and passion for the lives of everyday Missourians. Whether he served as their governor, auditor, or senator, he pursued the well-being of the state first and foremost. He was always open to everyone, close with his staff, and inspired those around him to work hard for civil, conservative values.

Victory Enterprises was honored to participate in Kit Bond’s 80th birthday celebration. You can watch our tribute video to the statesman below.