Rep. C.W. Bill Young, longest-serving House Republican, dies at 82

Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the House Republicans’ longest-serving member, has died at 82, his family said in a statement Friday.

Young passed away Friday evening at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the company of his family, Young's chief of staff, Harry Glenn said in an email. "The cause of death was complications related to a chronic injury. Information on services will be forthcoming," he said on the family's behalf.

Young served in Congress for 42 years, since 1971. He was chairman of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and previously chaired the full committee. He also served in the Florida State Senate for 10 years.

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The congressman had been hospitalized for a few weeks at Walter Reed Medical Center due to an alleged back injury.

On Thursday, his family said he had become “gravely ill” overnight.

“U.S. Rep. C. W. Bill Young's condition turned for the worse over night and he is gravely ill. His doctors say his prognosis is guarded,” said the statement, which his Chief of Staff Harry Glenn provided to The Hill that afternoon.

The statement came after false reports on Twitter spread claiming he had died. 

A Florida blogger, NBC New’s Capitol Hill reporter Luke Russert, and Fox News had reported Young had died. Soon after, it became clear those reports were premature. Lawmakers who had tweeted condolences based on the initial news soon deleted their tweets.

It was not the first false alarm about Young's health. In 2011, Young denied a report that he had died.

“Still alive and kicking,” he told National Journal at the time.

Glenn said the congressman’s office notified Capitol Police after police in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area received an anonymous tip saying the congressman had died.

“That was strange,” Glenn said at the time.

The day before Young’s health deteriorated, former President George W. Bush called Young, according to the Tampa Bay Times, thanking him for supporting the military.

Last week, Young announced his decision to retire from Congress when his term was going to end in 2015. He wanted to focus on his health and wanted to spend more time with his family.
 
He called Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to notify him he wouldn’t return to the Capitol for a few weeks.

In a statement Friday, Boehner extended condolences on Young's passing.

“It’s only been a week since we began trying to imagine the House without Bill Young – an impossible task in its own right – and now he is gone," Boehner said.

"In our sorrow, we recall how 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."

Among Young’s biggest accomplishments, he established the National Marrow Donor Program.

Young was a nine-year veteran of the Army National Guard. He was known for his expertise on defense and security issues.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Young’s father abandoned his family when he was six years old.

He leaves behind his wife Beverly, their three sons, and eight grandchildren.