(NEW YORK) — Arlen Specter, the former senator from Pennsylvania who stunned both parties on Capitol Hill in 2009 when he announced he would switch his party allegiance to Democrat after 42 years as a Republican, has died. He was 82.
Specter died at his Philadelphia home from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Specter’s battle with cancer has been long. In addition to the removal of a brain tumor, he was diagnosed and underwent chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease in 2005, only to undergo treatment again when it resurfaced in 2008.
He published a book, “Never Give In: Battling Cancer in the Senate,” about dealing with the disease after his initial diagnosis.
In August, Specter announced he was “battling cancer” again — this time with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Last month, he was released from a Philadelphia hospital.
He is survived by his wife, Joan, and two sons, Shanin and Stephen.
The following statements have been released on Specter’s death:
“Arlen Specter was always a fighter. From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent – never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve. He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others. When he announced that his cancer had returned in 2005, Arlen said, “I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents and I’m going to beat this, too.” Arlen fought that battle for seven more years with the same resolve he used to fight for stem-cell research funding, veterans health, and countless other issues that will continue to change lives for years to come. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joan and the rest of the Specter family. “
President George W. Bush
“Arlen Specter loved our country and served it with integrity for three decades in the United States Senate. Laura and I appreciate his contributions to America and are grateful for his many years of public service. We send our condolences to his wife, Joan, and the Specter family.”
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
“A man of sharp intelligence and dogged determination, Sen. Specter dedicated his life to public service and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His impact on our state and public policy will not be forgotten. My wife Kris and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joan and the entire Specter family.”
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.)
“I am deeply saddened to learn that my friend Arlen Specter has passed away. I had the honor and privilege of working with him in the U.S. Senate on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania. Arlen was a statesman and a problem solver who was able to work with Democrats and Republicans in the best interest of our Commonwealth and our Country. Arlen fought cancer courageously and his enduring legacy of support for the National Institutes of Health will help countless Americans as they battle cancer and other ailments. My thoughts and prayers are with Joan, Shanin, Stephen and his entire family.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
“I was deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Senator Arlen Specter. I served with Senator Specter in Congress for twenty-eight years. Senator Specter was a man of moderation; he was always passionate, but always easy to work with.
“I followed him through his previous illnesses, during the course of which he displayed great physical strength and great strength of character. Throughout his life, Senator Specter fought and won many battles, but this was one he could not win.
“America is better today because of Arlen Specter. He will be dearly missed.”
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