US

Benjamin Gilman, former GOP congressman, dies at 94

FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2001 file photo, Rep. Benjamin Gilman, front right, (R-NY), leads a high level U.S. congressional delegation to Dublin, Ireland for consultative talks with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, left, and members of Ahern's government.

FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2001 file photo, Rep. Benjamin Gilman, front right, (R-NY), leads a high level U.S. congressional delegation to Dublin, Ireland for consultative talks with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, left, and members of Ahern's government.  (AP)

Former U.S. Rep. Benjamin Gilman, a New York Republican who chaired the House Committee on International Relations in the 1990s, died Saturday at age 94.

Gilman's death at a Veterans Affairs facility in Wappingers Falls, New York was announced by former staff member Richard Mayfield.

Gilman was first elected to Congress in 1972 and served until 2003, representing the lower Hudson Valley area north of New York City.

His political career ended when his district was merged with another district in 2002, which would have forced him to run against fellow Congress member Sue Kelly in a Republican primary for the newly consolidated seat.

Gilman considered switching to the Democratic Party before deciding to step down instead.

He was known for his work on issues including human rights, fighting hunger and support for Israel.

As chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, he advocated for stronger ties with India as a counterweight against Chinese influence.

Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1922, Gilman graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and New York Law School.

Gilman's education was interrupted by World War II. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and flew 35 missions over Japan, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

Before being elected to Congress he served in the New York state Assembly from 1967 to 1972.

Gilman's first two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his third wife, Georgia Tingus Gilman; three children from his first marriage, Jonathan Gilman, Harrison Gilman and Susan Gilman; two stepchildren, Nicole Pappas and Peter Tingus; and 11 grandchildren.