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Dean of the House Don Young dead at 88

Young was the longest serving member of the House.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CN) — Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young died Friday with his wife Anne by his side while traveling back to his home state, according to a statement from his office.

“It’s with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce Congressman Don Young, the Dean of the House and revered champion for Alaska, passed away today while traveling home to Alaska to be with the state and people that he loved,” the statement said.

Young lost consciousness on a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle and couldn’t be resuscitated, Young’s chief of staff Jack Ferguson said in a statement.

Young, a Republican, was known as the dean of the United States House of Representatives as the longest continuously serving member of the House. He served in Congress since 1973, when he was sworn in after winning a special election.

He was in his 25th term and running for a 26th and had fundraisers scheduled in Juneau and Anchorage next week.

State law requires GOP Governor Mike Dunleavy to call a special election to fill Young’s seat within three months, and no sooner than two months from the date of his death.

“Congressman Don Young has been a great friend of mine for many years. I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of this amazing man who, in many ways, formed Alaska into the great state it is today,” Dunleavy said in a statement.

“Hours after being sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives, he was leading the historic battle for approval of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Shortly after, he was impressively honored in 1973 as the ‘Freshman Congressman of the Year.’ This is the Congressman whom Alaska will remember forever. Alaska is a better place because of Don Young. Rose and I offer our prayers to his family during this difficult time,” the statement read.

This is a developing story. 

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