Sebelius's father, former Rep. John Gilligan, dead at 92

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The president also heralded Gilligan's public service to those "who were left out or left behind."

"During World War II, he earned a Silver Star for his bravery at Okinawa, and he never stopped serving his country — as a Congressman, where he helped enact historic legislation from the Voting Rights Act to Medicare and Medicaid, and then as governor of Ohio," Obama said.

Gilligan is perhaps best known for convincing state legislators to enact the first corporate and personal income taxes in Ohio's history. He also oversaw the creation of the state's Environmental Protection Agency and served five terms on the Cincinnati City Council.

In a statement, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that “Ohioans of all political stripes are saddened by the news of his passing.”

“Governor Gilligan served our state with passion and was a committed public servant,” Boehner said.