Bob Dole was born in 1923 in the small Kansas town of Russell. His father ran a cream and egg stand, and his mother sold sewing machines. They struggled to make ends meet, and during the depression even moved into the basement of their house so they could rent out the top part.
Bob was a popular and outgoing boy in school, working as a soda jerk at Dawson's Drug Store and playing football and running track. He was popular and his quick wit and sense of humor was widely appreciated. He was known for his dancing ability as well, and did an impressive jitter-bug at high school dances.
In 1942 Bob joined the army and became a second lieutenant in the Army's 10th Mountain Division. He was injured in Italy in 1945 while trying to help a fellow soldier and wasn't expected to live. As was done with soldiers who were expected to die, he was given a shot of morphine and marked with an "M" on his forehead with his own blood. He received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star medal for his heroism.
Dole did live however (duhhhh), although with a shattered right shoulder and paralyzed from the neck down. It took him almost 4 years to rehabilitate from his injuries, and he never did regain full use of his right arm. Realizing that he would never achieve his goal of becoming a doctor, Dole decided to study law, and earned his law degree in 1952 from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.
Bob returned to his home town of Russell where he began to run for office. He was elected to the state legislature, as county attorney, US Senator, and in 1971 became chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 1976 Dole ran unsuccessfully as Vice-Presidential running mate with Gerald Ford. In 1996 Dole also ran unsuccessfully as president.
Dole met his future wife, Elizabeth Hanford in the mid 70s as well. She was a republican leader from North Carolina. About the rest of his personal life Dole is intensely private. He married an occupational therapist named Phyllis before Elizabeth and had one child, Robin. Bob's role as chairman of the Republican National Committee took its toll and they were divorced in 1972.