Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Florida's longest-serving member of Congress has passed away.
On Thursday, the family of the 82-year-old lawmaker said that he was gravely ill.
Young's family released the following statement Friday:
"U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (FL-13) passed away this evening at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the company of his family. The cause of death was complications related to a chronic injury. Information on services will be forthcoming."
Young was influential on military spending during his 43 years in Washington, and in October announced his decision to retire.
In recent years, Young had become increasingly frail and relied on a wheelchair. He was quoted by the Tampa Bay Times as saying that his decision was based on both his health and a desire to spend more time with his family.
Young had been seeking treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., due to back problems that stemmed from a 1970 small-plane crash.
After Young made his announcement to retire, praise of his service from his fellow Florida politicians emerged.
"Congressman Bill Young is an American patriot," tweeted former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. "We appreciate his service!"
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio praised Young for his support for the military. "No one has fought harder for the servicemen and women in this country and for returning veterans than Bill and his wife, Beverly," wrote Rubio in a news release.
Said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat: "He was always someone who approached solutions in a bipartisan way. He will be missed."
Young's term in office was slated to end next year.
Young was born in Harmarville, Pa., and later moved to Indian Shores, Fla., a small Gulf Coast community in Pinellas County.
He served in the Army National Guard from 1948 to 1957, then became an aide to U.S. Rep. William Cramer from 1957 to 1960. From 1961 to 1971, he served in the Florida Senate.
He was first elected to the U.S. House in 1970. Young and his wife, Beverly, have three children. His son, Bill Young II, has expressed interest in the past in running for office.
The congressman was a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, where he focused on military spending. He and his wife frequently visited ailing service members at hospitals in the Washington area.
As one of the strongest defense hawks in Congress, Young made headlines in 2012 when he said the United States should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.
Young told The Associated Press at the time that "we're killing kids who don't need to die," and reflected the growing weariness with a conflict that had dragged on for more than a decade.
Young brought hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks back to the Tampa Bay area, and built up a defense contracting industry in the region, creating jobs and stirring the economy.
The following are statements released on the passing of Young:
"Tonight, our country lost a national treasure; our state lost its finest representative; our city lost its biggest advocate; and me - my friend and mentor. God bless Congressman C. W. Bill Young and his family. Well done good and faithful servant." - St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster
"Bill Young's love for his country and our community was best shown in his dedication to public service. Tonight, we lost a champion who never forgot where he came from and always had Tampa Bay at the top of his agenda.
"He was a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather. He was also a man who served our community in more ways than one: first in uniform and later in public office. Bill Young represented what a public servant should be. Country before party, progress before partisanship, and service above self. He was my friend, a friend to Tampa, and a friend to anyone who has worn this country's uniform.
"My thoughts and prayers tonight are with the Young family." - Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn
"Bill Young was one of the exemplary figures in Congress who achieved legislative consensus in a bipartisan way," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. "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." - Sen. Bill Nelson
"Floridians have lost one of the greatest public servants we've ever had in our state's history. For over a half century, Bill fought tirelessly for the Tampa Bay region and to strengthen Florida's role as a critical part of our national defense. Largely because of Bill Young, many of our nation's brave men and women in uniform have called Florida home at some point in their careers, with many of them spending their golden retirement years here. Throughout Bill's career, our military and veterans have had no greater champion than him. My thoughts and prayers are with Bill's wife, Beverly, and their entire family." - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
"Ann and I join all Floridians as we mourn the passing of Representative Bill