Tributes from across the aisle pour in for Rep. Bill Young
October 18th, 2013
10:19 PM ET
11 months ago

Tributes from across the aisle pour in for Rep. Bill Young

Washington (CNN) - After weeks of partisan rankling in Washington, there was a rare, albeit somber, moment of bipartisan agreement Friday as many in Washington paid tribute to Rep. Bill Young, the longest serving House Republican.

Young died Friday night after 43 years in the House of Representatives. He was 82 years old.


It was a tribute the 22-term representative would have appreciated. Last week, he announced he would retire at the end of this session, citing his frustration with congressional gridlock, among other reasons.

"I'm a little disappointed. It seems there's too much politics. It's a different Congress," he told the Tampa Bay Times in a phone interview.

Young served under eight different Speakers of the House, but his last leader was among the first to issue a statement.

"Not a day went by without a colleague seeking Bill's counsel as he sat on his perch in the corner of the House floor. There was good reason for this," said John Boehner in a statement. "Here was a man who had seen it all and accomplished much. Looking out for our men and women in uniform was his life's work, and no one was better at it. No one was kinder too."

"Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Congressman C.W. Bill Young," President Obama said in a statement released by the White House Friday night. "For over 50 years Bill served the people of Florida, both in the state legislature and as the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. He will be remembered for his advocacy and support for the armed forces, service members, and their families as well as his statesmanship and long history of working across the aisle to keep our country moving forward."

"Chairman Young was among the most distinguished Members of the House of Representatives. He was a constant advocate for our men and women serving in the Armed Forces and... [his] work to create a national registry for bone marrow donors has saved countless lives," said another of his former speakers, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"For over 13 years, I considered Bill to be a dear friend and a colleague that could always be counted on to provide sage advice based on decades of experience," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. "The families of veterans and wounded soldiers will never forget his steadfast commitment to their needs."

That dedication to the Armed Forces was a large part of Young's legacy. He chaired the full House Appropriations committee and its defense subcommittee during his tenure on Capitol Hill.

"On behalf of the 3 million men and women of the Department of Defense, I want to express our heartfelt condolences to Beverly and the Young family," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in a statement. "He dedicated his life to serving our country. Though his loss will be felt by many, his legacy and commitment to a strong national defense will always inspire us."

Young was also a giant in Florida politics, and many on both sides of the aisle in the sunshine state praised his years of service.

"Bill Young was one of the exemplary figures in Congress who achieved legislative consensus in a bipartisan way," said the senior Senator from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson. "He put the good of the country and his constituents above partisan politics and he is going to be very much missed."

"Floridians have lost one of the greatest public servants we've ever had in our state's history," said Nelson's counterpart, the Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. "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... Our military and veterans have had no greater champion than him."

Elsewhere, around the country and across Florida, politicians took to Twitter to express their condolences.

"My prayers are with the family of Congressman Bill Young. He served our county, state and country with distinction," tweeted Charlie Crist, the former Florida governor and one-time Republican.

"Congressman #Bill Young, an institution in the House, a statesman, a positive thinker, public servant, and consummate gentleman. RIP Bill," tweeted Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.

"Bill Young was a mentor. He was an inspiration to so many bc he personified the most important virtue of public service-he did it for others," tweeted Rep. Vern Buchanan, the Republican Congressman in a neighboring district.

Young passed away at 6:50pm at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center surrounded by family. Information on services will be forthcoming, according to Young's chief of staff Harry Glenn.

–CNN's Kevin Bohn and Greg Seaby contributed to this report.


Filed under: Bill Young • Congress • Florida
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Winston Smith

    R.I.P.. Would never voted for you, don't like the party you claim to belong to. But, you are fellow man and your passing diminishes me by one.

    October 19, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  2. buongirno

    RIP you will always live in the mind and hearts of many

    October 19, 2013 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  3. Marie MD

    RIP but this is another reason for term limits!

    October 19, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  4. don in albuquerque

    Good job sir, and well done. Rest in peace.

    October 19, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  5. wendel

    RIP even though you where not a member of my party condolences to your family

    October 19, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. John Emanuelson, LTC, AUS (Ret)

    As a 15 year old private in the Florida National Guard, my weapons platoon sergeant was Bill Young. At the time (1950) he was 19 years old, but had the presence of one much older. He never cursed or shouted at us, but you knew when he was serious and wanted something done. A big man with a big smile, and a big influence on my young life.

    October 19, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |