Oberstar served in Congress from 1975 to 2011, including two terms as chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He is survived by his wife Jean, four children and eight grandchildren.
"We are heartbroken to share the news that Jim Oberstar has passed way," read a family statement in the MPR News report. "Jim was a loving husband, father, grandfather, friend and brother. While we mourn the loss of a good man, we also celebrate his life and his service. We ask for your thoughts and prayers, and understanding, at this very difficult time."
According to the AP, the family statement added that Oberstar died Saturday morning in his sleep. No cause of death was provided.
Several politicians took to Twitter on Saturday to mourn his death:
Former congressman Jim Oberstar died last night. He was a mentor and friend and a man of true purpose and grit. We will miss him dearly.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) May 3, 2014
Congressman Jim Oberstar was a giant of a man who devoted himself to serving others. This is a terribly sad day for all of us.
— U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (@USRepRickNolan) May 3, 2014
Thoughts and prayers are with the family of Rep. Jim Oberstar. It was a pleasure serving with him in Congress.
— Rep. Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) May 3, 2014
Jim Oberstar was a truly wonderful man who was filled with joy and compassion. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
— Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) May 3, 2014
On behalf of the DFL Party we send our thoughts and prayers to the family of Rep. Jim Oberstar. We have lost a true Minnesota legend.
— Ken Martin (@kenmartin73) May 3, 2014
UPDATE (4:50 p.m. EDT): The White House released the following statement from President Barack Obama on Oberstar's death.
Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Congressman Jim Oberstar. Jim cared deeply about the people of Minnesota, devoting his 36 years of service to improving America's infrastructure, creating opportunity for hardworking Minnesotans, and building a strong economy for future generations of Americans. Jim will be deeply missed and Michelle and I send our condolences to his wife Jean, his children, and grandchildren.
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