Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young has passed away

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 Young.

As Florida's longest serving member of Congress, Bill will be remembered as a true statesman and champion for the Tampa Bay area. He served with eight US Presidents throughout his career, always putting the families of Florida first, and working across the aisle to find solutions. - U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland

"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. 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 Gov. Rick Scott

"Bill dedicated so much of his life as a public servant. It has been a privilege to get to know him better as we've both represented central Floridians in Congress. Cindy and I extend our deepest condolences and prayers to Beverly, Rob, Billy, Pat, and the whole Young family during this incredibly difficult time."

"Tonight, Florida and the Tampa Bay area lost a great leader and an even better friend," said Bilirakis. "Chairman Young, who I always referred to as 'Chairman' because of the respect he commanded, was a mentor and someone I admired greatly for his wisdom and humility. I am extremely thankful that I was able to express my gratitude and admiration to him two nights ago when I visited with him at his bedside. I know he will be remembered for his pure and honest leadership on behalf of all Tampa Bay residents, especially its veterans and members of the armed services. I pray that God blesses Beverly, his children, his grandchildren and all of his loved ones with peace and comfort knowing that his memory will be eternal." - Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis

"Tampa Bay is mourning the passing of Congressman Bill Young, but celebrates his life as a leader who for decades has been passionate about our community, especially MacDill Air Force Base, our military members, veterans and their families. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.
"Congressman Young was a man of honor and leaves us with a lasting legacy. He will be remembered as a tireless champion for Pinellas County residents and for being instrumental in the funding of important projects that will benefit generations of this community. He will always be revered for the mark he left in numerous areas including the University of South Florida, Bay Pines Medical Center, St. Petersburg College and Tampa Bay Water.
"A recent event alongside Congressman Young was in St. Petersburg to honor our fallen law enforcement officers with congressional medals of honor and meet with their families. It has been a privilege to serve with Congressman Young and I am fortunate to remember him in this cherished setting, among our neighbors and hometown heroes." -
Congresswoman Kathy Castor

"Florida lost a statesman tonight, in every sense of the word. Bill Young rose from humble beginnings, invented the modern Republican Party in Florida, was friend and counselor to U.S. and foreign leaders, and helped shape today's military.

"Bill was a tireless supporter of our troops and made sure the support continued when they became veterans. He and Beverly never missed an opportunity to give comfort and support to the wounded and their families. He saved MacDill for Tampa Bay and saved the Everglades for all of us. His leadership aided our state in the aftermath of multiple hurricanes and rebuilt the beaches for the world to enjoy.

"I never once heard a cross word uttered by him or about him. Once, when a major vote was pending, and the vote was tight, Bill asked the White House Legislative Affairs Director if he could speak personally with President Bush. The staffer walked out with me and shared that, as it was past 2:00 a.m., the President was asleep. 'What are you going to do?,' I asked. 'Wake him up for Mr. Young,' was the reply.

"Many will say or write over the next few days, 'They don't make them like Bill Young anymore.' The truth is, they never did."
- Commissioner Adam Putnam

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