05/03/2014 12:21 pm ET Updated May 04, 2014

Jim Oberstar Dead: Former Dem Congressman Dies At 79


Former Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) has died at age 79, according to Saturday reports from MPR News and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

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:

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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