Rep. Don Young, Alaska’s lone representative and the longest-serving member of the current Congress, has died, his office announced in a statement on Friday.
Young, a Republican, was 88 and currently serving as the Dean of the House. He was first elected to Congress in a special election in 1973 and was re-elected in 2020 to serve his 25th term as Alaska’s only member of the US House of Representatives.
“It’s with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce Congressman Don Young (R-AK), the Dean of the House and revered champion for Alaska, passed away today while traveling home to Alaska to be with the state and people that he loved. His beloved wife Anne was by his side,” the statement from his office said.
Young was on a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle when he went unconscious, former Chief of Staff Jack Ferguson told Anchorage Daily News, adding Young could not be resuscitated. Details about the cause of death were not immediately known.
Young represented Alaska, which become a state in 1959, for most of its existence. He was the longest-serving Republican in House history, a record he set in 2019. He was also the oldest member of the current Congress, across both the House and the Senate.
The congressman was at times called Alaska’s “third senator,” given the state has only one representative in addition to its two senators. He was a staunch proponent of Alaska’s oil and logging industries, and an opponent of environmental causes and regulations.
Tributes to the late Congressman were shared online following the news of his death.
“The first time we spoke, Don Young cheerfully informed me that I was the 17th secretary he’d dealt with at DOT,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet. “Our politics weren’t the same, but it was always a pleasure working with him. A true character, he shaped US infrastructure in many ways, and will be deeply missed.”
Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota also tweeted a tribute to Young, writing: “His fiercely independent voice for Alaska and one of a kind wit and character will be missed. Rest in peace, Don.”