WASHINGTON – Ohio Rep. Paul Gillmor, a Republican whose political career covered four decades, has died, party officials said.
"Born, raised and educated in our home state of Ohio, Paul never lost sight of the reason he came to Congress — to serve this great institution and his constituents with dedication and distinction," House Republican Leader John Boehner, also of Ohio, said in a statement.
"With the passing of Paul Gillmor, the people of northwest Ohio have lost a favorite son," said House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam, R-Fla.
The body of the 68-year-old congressman was found by staff members who went to his apartment Wednesday after he failed to show up for work, according to a Republican aide. There was no immediate word on the cause of his death.
Gillmor's office did not respond to a reporter's call.
Gillmor had been in Ohio last week to attend a series of town meetings and tour areas of the state that were hit hard by flooding. "His sudden passing is a shock to us all and he will be greatly missed," Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted said in a statement.
Gillmor, who represented Ohio's heavily Republican 5th District in the Bowling Green area, was first elected to Congress in 1988.
He served as a Vietnam War-era judge advocate in the Air Force after graduating law school, won a seat in the Ohio state senate in 1966, and served there for 22 years, rising to the senate presidency. After an unsuccessful run for governor in 1986, Gillmor was elected to the U.S. House in 1988 after eking out a 27-vote victory in the primary.
"Congressman Paul Gillmor's life was an extraordinary example to service and leadership," President Bush said in a statement. "He was a good man and dedicated public servant who represented the people of Ohio with distinction for four decades."
As a House member he was a little-known but solid Republican vote, a reliable conservative on social issues, and a strong proponent of the military.
He led legislative efforts in such areas as cleanups of commercially contaminated sites known as brownfields and enacting financial service reforms. He was also a strong advocate of a constitutional amendment to ban unfunded mandates on the states.
He is survived by his wife, Karen, and five children.