Florida Republican Congressman Bill Young Dies at 82

He died at Walter Reed Medical Center, his family said

Florida Congressman Bill Young has died, one week after announcing he would not seek a 23rd term. He was 82.

Young's chief of staff, Harry Glenn, said the Tampa Bay Republican died Friday at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He had been there for nearly two weeks with back problems that stemmed from a 1970 small plane crash.

His family said he died at 6:50 p.m.

"The cause of death was complications related to a chronic injury," his family said in a statement. "Information on services will be forthcoming."

On Oct. 9, from his hospital bed, Young announced that he would not seek another term in Florida's 13th Congressional District in 2014.

Young was Florida's longest-serving member of Congress and a defense hawk who was influential on military spending during his 43 years in Washington.

He was the only House Republican who did not cast a vote on the bill that ended the government shutdown and extended the nation's debt ceiling Wednesday night.

As one of the strongest defense supporters in Congress, Young made headlines in 2012 when he said the United States should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

"It's only been a week since we began trying to imagine the House without Bill Young – an impossible task in its own right – and now he is gone," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "In our sorrow, we recall how not a day went by without a colleague seeking Bill's counsel as he sat on his perch in the corner of the House floor. There was a good reason for this. Here was a man who had seen it all and accomplished much. Looking out for our men and women in uniform was his life's work, and no one was better at it. No one was kinder too."

The Ohio Republican extended "the condolences of the whole House" to Young's wife, Beverly, his family and friends, and Floridians and Americans affected by his life.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Young "will be remembered as a true statesman and champion for the Tampa Bay area" who put Florida's families first and sought to find bipartisan solutions to problems.

"His work to support military families, our veterans, and his own service with the Army National Guard and as a reservist, will leave a lasting legacy," Scott said in a statement. "Representative Young will be missed by his constituents and our entire nation. Ann and I offer our support and prayers to his wife Beverly and his sons and grandchildren during this difficult time.”

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, also emphasized Young's efforts to reach across the aisle.

“Bill Young was one of the exemplary figures in Congress who achieved legislative consensus in a bipartisan way,” he said in a statement. “He put the good of the country and his constituents above partisan politics and he is going to be very much missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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