FILE PHOTO: Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich, who replaced his father in the house some 58 years ago, announces he would retire from public office at the end of his current term and would not seek a 31st term in office during a luncheon in Southgate, Michigan February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – John Dingell, a gruff Michigan Democrat who entered the U.S. House of Representatives in 1955 to finish his late father’s term and became a legislative heavyweight and longest-serving member of Congress, died on Thursday. He was 92.
“Today the great State of Michigan said farewell to one of our greatest leaders. John Dingell will forever be remembered as ‘The Dean’ of Congress not simply for the length of his service, but for his unparalleled record of legislative accomplishments,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wrote in a post on Twitter.
Dingell served 59 years in the House before retiring in 2015 because, as he said to a Michigan business group at the time, he could no longer “live up to my own personal standard” for serving in Congress.
On Wednesday, Dingell’s wife, Debbie Dingell, who was elected to succeed him, said on Twitter that she skipped Tuesday’s State of the Union address in Washington to be with him as his health declined.
The Detroit News reported he was in hospice care after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, which he had decided not to treat.
On Wednesday, Dingell dictated a tweet for his wife to write: “I want to thank you all for your incredibly kind words and prayers. You’re not done with me just yet.”
Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow wrote in a post on Twitter: “We have been incredibly lucky to have you and will miss you dearly.”
Reporting by David Shepardson, Eric Beech and Makini Brice; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney