Former House Speaker Tom Foley died Friday at the age of 84.
From 1989 to 1995, Mr. Foley served as the 57th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Democrat represented Washington state for 30 years in Congress and served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan under President Bill Clinton.
News reports said Mr. Foley died due to complications from a stroke.
Responding to the news, House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said that with his passing, the "House loses one of its most devoted servants and the country loses a great statesman."
"Forthright and warmhearted, Tom Foley endeared himself not only to the wheat farmers back home but also colleagues on both sides of the aisle," Mr. Boehner said in a statement. "That had a lot to do with his solid sense of fairness, which remains a model for any Speaker or representative. Take it from the great Henry Hyde, who used to say of Tom, 'I wish he were a Republican.' "
"The whole House extends its heartfelt sympathy to Tom's wife, Heather, a longtime friend of this institution," Mr. Boehner said.. "We will keep her and all of Tom's friends and loved ones in our prayers. He will be dearly missed."
Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, said Mr. Foley served as a role model for her when she was first elected to Congress, calling him "a tireless public servant for our state."
"Tom spent his life serving his state and his country, and his legacy is felt not only in Eastern Washington, but around the world," Mrs. Murray said. "From his work to build new roads, protect public lands, and bring federal resources to Spokane, to his career as a statesman overseas, Tom touched the lives of everyone he encountered, whether it was a wheat farmer in Washington or a foreign dignitary in Japan."
President Obama said the nation has lost "a legend of the United States Congress."
"For thirty years, Tom Foley represented the people of Washington’s 5th district with skill, dedication, and a deep commitment to improving the lives of those he was elected to serve," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "Tom’s straightforward approach helped him find common ground with members of both parties."
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