KANSAS CITY — Joseph Teasdale, a Democrat who served a term as Missouri governor from 1977 until 1981, died Thursday. He was 78.
Teasdale's eldest son, Bill Teasdale, told The Associated Press that his father died of complications from pneumonia shortly after 5 p.m. at a Kansas City hospice center. He said his father was surrounded by family.
Teasdale was known as a particularly approachable politician, and earned the nickname "Walking Joe" for treks across the state that covered 1,000 miles during the two years leading up to his nearly victorious primary election campaign of 1972.
Four years later, Teasdale defeated Republican Gov. Christopher S. Bond, and served a single term until Bond retook the seat.
After leaving office in 1981, Joe Teasdale returned to Kansas City to practice law with his father until his father's death, and he avoided the public eye.
Bill Teasdale said his father's interest in politics waned after he left office.
"After he got out of politics, his interest in it diminished, especially the last 30 years or so it wasn't his passion. It was his friends and family," Bill Teasdale said, adding that he'd like his father to be remembered also as a devout Catholic.
Democratic political strategist Steve Glorioso told the Kansas City Star that Teasdale was a "bigger than life personality who loved campaigning and meeting people more than governing. Honest to the core and always with the best intentions."
Gov. Jay Nixon released a statement expressing his condolences to Teasdale's family and he ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at state facilities until the former governor's burial.
"Gov. Teasdale was a good man whose life was guided by a deep and abiding faith and a commitment to public service," Nixon said.
The Jackson County Democratic Committee also issued a statement, praising Teasdale as "a tremendous asset to Missouri in his nearly two decades of civic service.
Teasdale is survived by his wife, Theresa Teasdale, his sons Bill, John and Kevin, all of Kansas City, and his two sisters, Bernadette Teasdale, of Denver, and Ginny Keenan, of Franktown, Colo. He also had five grandchildren.
The family hadn't made funeral arrangements yet.