R. Budd Dwyer Biography

Robert Budd Dwyer was born in St. Charles Missouri November 21, 1939, the first child to Robert M. and Alice Dwyer. Shortly, after the Dwyer's made the move back to the family homestead in Wayne County Pennsylvania. After spending several years there, they relocated to Blooming Valley in Crawford County on the Western side of the state. This is where Budd grew up and went to school.

The Dwyer's had purchased a small farm, so Budd grew up milking cows, working in the field, and roaming the woods that were part of the property. As he got older Budd became an avid hunter and outdoorsman. The area around his home was the perfect setting for such activities.

Budd attended Townville High School and not only was he a good student, he became a very good basketball and football player. His skill playing football led to a scholarship offer from Thiel College in Greenville PA. However, his college playing days were short lived. During practice in his first semester at Thiel, he was tackled and his knee smashed onto a rock on the field, breaking his kneecap and ending his playing days. He did however, play sports on a recreational level for the remainder of his life.

He decided after his first year at Thiel to transfer to Allegheny College in Meadville PA. Meadville is very close to Blooming Valley, so he could continue the outdoor activities he loved so much. He joined the Theta Chi Fraternity and received both an undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as working for the college as Assistant Alumni Director upon graduation.

Budd became a high school civics teacher and assistant football coach. While teaching, he was introduced to another young educator, an English teacher, Joanne Grappy. There was an instant attraction and the two began dating and eventually married. Also, during this time Budd was chosen to be a Community Ambassador to Poland. He spent the summer in Poland, prior to getting married, living with a host family and touring the country taking many slide photos to be used upon his return for presentations to civic and community organizations.

His experience in Poland strengthened his appreciation for Democracy and the American way of life. So much so, he decided to run for the PA State House of Representatives. His many presentations about his experience in Poland gave him a lot of exposure and name recognition. In 1964 he ran against an incumbent in the Republican Primary for the Sixth House District and won. At this time, he was the youngest person ever to be elected the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Budd became a very active legislator and was very attentive to the needs and the requests from his constituents. When in session, he would spend his weeks in the capital city of Harrisburg and then drive to Meadville for the weekends, where he would attend dinners and speaking engagements. On Sunday night, he would drive back to Harrisburg, and the cycle would begin again. Even though both he and Joanne, who was a full-time teacher, were very busy, they took time out to start a family. On November 5, 1965, Robbie was born.

Very much enjoying his role as a legislator, Budd won reelection in 1966 and 1968. Also, in 1968, their second child was born on April 8th, Dyan. The Dwyer family was growing and so was Budd's interest in running for State Senate. The Senate campaign would have Budd running against an incumbent in the primary, just as he had done when he ran for the House the first time. He decided to make the move, and in 1970 he was sworn into his first term as State Senator for the 50th District. Or, as Budd called it, "The Golden 50th."

Budd kept his "Meadville to Harrisburg Cycle", just as he did when he was in the House. His popularity continued to grow and he won landslide reelections in 1974 and 1978. He rose to the rank of Senate Minority Whip and continued to be given many awards for his service to the community. Budd was very focused on time management, as he attended Law School full time and never missed a Senate vote. He graduated in 1977 from Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle PA, now part of Penn State.

Into his third term in the Senate, Budd was on an appropriations committee, and the meeting that he was attending was for the budget for the office of the State Treasurer. The Treasurer never showed. It upset him that a department as important as the State Treasury was being run so poorly. So, he decided to run for the office.

He hired a campaign manager and began raising money. Even though this was a statewide campaign, he approached this campaign as he did all his others, go to the people and "press the flesh". He hooked up the camper, threw the family in the station wagon, and off they went to fairs, festivals, church dinners, and stopped at many small-town radio stations. Eventually Budd made it to every county in the state. And he won! He beat out an incumbent, again. As he had done in the other positions, he got to work immediately and modernized what had been a neglected department. He brought the State Treasury into the 20th Century. He was reelected in 1984.

In the early 1980s, it had been discovered that Pennsylvanian government workers had overpaid federal taxes, and many accounting firms competed for a multimillion-dollar contract to calculate the amount to be repaid to each employee. A Pennsylvania native, John Torquato, owned one such firm, Computer Technology Associates. Torquato used his local connections and a series of bribes to obtain the contract worth a reputed $4.6 million.

After an investigation by the United States Attorney, Dwyer was charged with and indicted for receiving a kickback of $300,000 in return for using his influence and office to steer the contract toward CTA. The US Attorney also indicted Torquato, Torquato's attorney William Smith, and former state Republican Party Chairman Robert Asher. In return for lighter penalties, Torquato and the Smith pleaded guilty and testified on behalf of the government against Dwyer. Dwyer was found guilty of receiving the bribe in December 1986. He continued to profess his innocence vehemently, as did others who were close to him.

On January 22, 1987, the day before his sentencing, Dwyer called a press conference to "provide an update on the situation." At the conference, Dwyer once again professed his innocence, and declared that he would not resign as state treasurer. Dwyer then withdrew a .357 Magnum revolver from a manila envelope and shot himself.

Budd still remains a loving figure in many hearts. In 2010, the documentary, Honest Man, was released to rave reviews. This independently produced feature-length documentary follows Budd Dwyer, a Pennsylvania politician who infamously committed suicide at a televised press conference. The film chronicles Dwyer's meteoric rise to political power and examines the bribery scandal and subsequent trial that pushed him to his breaking point. Honest Man also delves into the controversy and consequences of the uncensored airing of Dwyer's death on television stations worldwide.