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Mourners pay respects to Sen. Howard Baker Jr.

Monday - 6/30/2014, 4:18pm  ET

Former Kansas U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, left, the widow of late U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., greets former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist Monday, June 30, 2014, in Knoxville, Tenn. The funeral for Baker, who died June 26 at age 88, will be held Tuesday in his hometown of Huntsville, Tenn. Sundquist's wife, Martha, is in the background. (AP Photo, Paul Efird/Knoxville News Sentinel)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Mourners on Monday paid their respects to former Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. at the University of Tennessee center in that bears his name.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1vocKgM ) reports that people began lining up outside the Baker Center for Public Policy in Knoxville well before the doors opened to view the flag-draped casket of the onetime Senate majority leader.

Baker cut to the core of the 1973 Watergate hearings when he asked, "What did the president know and when did he know it?" He died Thursday at age 88.

Baker in his 18 years in the Senate won widespread respect from Republicans and Democrats. He once ran for president and later was President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff.

Among the attendees was former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist. He said he and U.S. Reps. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky., and John Duncan Jr., R-Tennessee, recently drove to visit his former colleague and friend in his hometown of Huntsville near the Kentucky state line.

"We didn't know how long we'd be able to stay, but we started telling war stories, and we stayed over an hour," Sundquist said.

Sundquist praised Baker's wife, former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, for making "his life so comfortable."

"She supported him and was just a wonderful wife to him," Sundquist said.

Baker died at his home as result of complications from a stroke suffered a few days earlier, according to an email distributed at the law firm where Baker was senior counsel.

His funeral was scheduled in Huntsville on Tuesday.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com


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