Gov. Rick Snyder lowers flags in honor of former state Rep. Robert Mahoney, Michigan’s first blind legislator

LANSING, MI – Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered U.S. and Michigan flags to be lowered to half-staff Monday, April 3, within the state Capitol complex in honor of former state Rep. Robert Mahoney, who died March 30, 2017.

“Robert will always be remembered for the many ways he served Michigan and I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and community during this difficult time,” Snyder said.

Mahoney served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1954-1972. While there, he chaired the House Policy Committee and served on the State Officers Compensation Commission. After leaving the legislature he was appointed as a Wayne County Commissioner and later lobbied for the Michigan Hospital Association.

A service in his honor will be held on Monday, April 3 at 10 a.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East Lansing.


Robert Daniel Mahoney, age 95 of East Lansing went to his heavenly home on March 30, 2017. He was born in Duluth, MN to Daniel and Isabelle Mahoney on October 16, 1921. Robert married Jennie Kubinger (who was also blind) on November 29, 1941. The biggest joy of Bob and Jennie’s lives were their 10 children. Gary (deceased), Roberta Staton (Chuck deceased), Rosemary Sinutko (deceased), Dennis (Jackie), Colleen Sinutko (John), Joseph (Marlene), Mark (Kelly), Mike, Bill (Mary), Bob (Dari). Robert and Jennie have 22 grandchildren
and 16 great grandchildren.

Robert lost his sight at the age of 15; however, he never let that handicap hold him down. After his career as a door to door salesman he got involved in politics. In 1954 Robert Mahoney became the State of Michigan’s first blind State Representative. He served the people of Detroit’s northeast side for 18 years. During his tenure as State Representative he was responsible for several significant pieces of legislation. He sponsored the bill to provide state identification for handicapped people who did not have their driver license. He also sponsored the Vending Stand Act, which required that all State-owned buildings would require a vending stand run by a blind proprietor. Robert was also responsible for getting the funding for WKAR radio for a sub-channel for the blind “Talking Book” program.

After leaving the legislature in 1972, he was appointed to serve as a Wayne County Commissioner for three years. Robert came back to Lansing and lobbied for the Michigan Hospital Association for several years. He and Jennie have lived in East Lansing for the past several years. Robert loved his family, his many friends, enjoyed playing cards and discussing politics.

Robert was a lifelong Catholic and would attend daily mass whenever he was able. He and Jennie would pray the rosary daily and their faith was truly a gift from God. In 1995 Robert, self-published a book, “Living Out of Sight” about his and Jennie’s life.

Funeral Mass will be held Monday, April 3, 2017, 10:00 a.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas, 955 Alton Road, East Lansing, MI 48823 and visitation one hour prior at the church. The family will receive friends Sunday, April 2, 2017, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. with the rosary being prayed at 7:30 p.m. at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home, 1730 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing, MI. Christian burial will follow at St. Joseph Cemetery in Lansing, MI. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Capuchin Soup Kitchen, 1264 Meldrum St, Detroit, MI 48207.

On-line condolences may be made at

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