- Associated Press - Friday, November 27, 2015

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A former speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and treasurer of Norfolk whose political career spanned decades has died, his wife said Friday.

Thomas Moss Jr. died Thursday after suffering a heart attack while visiting family in South Carolina, said his wife, Norma Moss. He was 87 years old.

Moss, a Democrat from Norfolk, entered Virginia’s House of Delegates in 1966 and served for 36 years. He became speaker of the House in 1991 and remained at the lower chamber’s helm until 2000, when Republicans wrested control away from Democrats. Moss later became Norfolk city treasurer until he retired in December 2013.

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe called Moss “an energetic soldier” for Norfolk, Hampton Roads and Virginia who served in the House of Delegates with “humor, intellectual rigor and a strong respect for the legislative process.”

“He was a larger than life personality who made the state Capitol a richer place, and he was a man of substance who made Virginia a better Commonwealth for all of its citizens. Dorothy and I extend our prayers and condolences to his family,” McAuliffe said in a statement.

Republican House Speaker William Howell said the length of Moss’ service “reflects his tireless commitment to fellow citizens of the Commonwealth.” Howell took over the post in 2003 from Vance Wilkins Jr., the Republican who replaced Moss as speaker.

Norma Moss said her husband had struggled with health problems over the last couple of years, but never lost of his sense of humor. She said they were getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner with family members Thursday when he suffered the heart attack and passed away.

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