Florida Rep. C.W. Bill Young Dies At 82

Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) died on Friday, according to his staff. The 82-year-old was the House of Representatives’ longest-serving Republican member.

Young was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in recent weeks because of back problems that began after a small plane crash in 1970.

ABC News reports that Young’s chief of staff, Harry Glenn, announced the congressman’s death, saying that his family was with him when he passed. The announcement added, “The cause of death was complications related to a chronic injury. Information on services will be forthcoming.”

Bill Young became involved in politics since 1957 and was considered the elder statesman of Florida’s Republican Party and the US House of Representatives. He spent 22 terms in Congress and was one of the strongest defense supporters in the legislative body.

Young became increasingly dependent on a wheelchair in recent years, notes CBS News. The longtime congressman announced last week that he wouldn’t seek another term, citing his health and wanting to spend time with family.

After he came to Washington, D.C., in 1970, the congressman spent most of his years as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, where his focus was on military spending. Young and his wife were known for their frequent visits to ailing service members at hospitals in the area.

Young made headlines in 2012 for commenting that the US should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. At the time, the congressman explained that “we’re killing kids who don’t need to die.” He also reflected on a growing weariness with a conflict that has lasted for more than a decade.

News of Bill Young’s death spread fast, and his colleagues took to Twitter to express their sorrow at his passing. House Speaker John Boehner wrote, “The House has lost another dear friend… We’ll miss Bill Young, as will countless others blessed by his life & service.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor added, “Bill Young dedicated his life to serving the people of Florida, and his loss is a great one for his constituents.”