Former House Speaker, Democrat Thomas Foley, died Friday in Washington. He was 84.
According to the New York Times, Foley died from complications related to a stroke he suffered last December. He was hospitalized with pneumonia in May and received remained in hospice care until his death.
Foley represented eastern Washington state in the House of Representatives from 1965 to 1995. He served for 15 terms. He served as Speaker of the House for five-and-a-half years.
Foley was part of the momentous Republican upset in 1994, when American voters replaced Democratic leadership with members of the Republican party. That year, Foley lost to Republican George Nethercutt. On election night, Foley told supporters that Americans made it clear that they were ready to see new faces in Congress.
"It is clear there is a sense on the part of Americans across the country that they are dissatisfied with the pace of change," Foley told his supporters on election night in 1994.
The former Speaker served as chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1995 to 1997, after leaving Congress. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan for three years, then ended his career by practicing law at the law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld.
Officials notified of his death remember Foley as a legend of his time. In statements, leaders described him as kind, dedicated, and authentic man.
View some of their touching tributes below:
“Today, America has lost a legend of the United States Congress," President Obama said in a statement, going on to praise his skill as a legislator and diplomat whose "poise and civility helped strengthen our relationship with one of our closest allies."
"Forthright and warmhearted, Tom Foley endeared himself not only to the wheat farmers back home but also colleagues on both sides of the aisle," said Republican Rep. John Boehner, current House Speaker. "That had a lot to do with his solid sense of fairness, which remains a model for any speaker or representative."
"A true statesman knows how to unite people around their mutual, shared interests, while still respecting the differences among individuals," said Gov. Jay Inslee, of Washington state. "That's the example Tom set, and it's something all public servants should strive to emulate."
"I will never forget the way he welcomed me to 'the other Washington,' and the incredible example he set as a tireless public servant for our state," Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state said. "Tom touched the lives of everyone he encountered, whether it was a wheat farmer in Washington or a foreign dignitary in Japan."