Former Minnesota Rep. Jim Oberstar dies at 79

By Kyle Johnson,

Minnesota's longest-serving congressman, Jim Oberstar, passed away early on Saturday in his sleep at the age of 79.

No cause of death was announced, but his former chief of staff, Bill Richard, said that the veteran Democrat hadn't been sick, reports WCCO. Oberstar is survived by his wife, four children and eight grandchildren.

Oberstar served as a Minnesota representative for 18 terms, from 1975 to 2011, when he was defeated by Chip Cravaack. The Eighth Congressional District is now held by Congressman Rick Nolan, according to the Star Tribune.

The former congressman's aide Ken Hasskamp said, "I'm just shocked. History will record him as the quintessential congressman -- the complete package."

According to Politico, Oberstar served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as chair during his long tenure in office.

After he was defeated in the 2010 election, which saw a huge swing from Democrats to Republicans in the House, Oberstar seemed happy with what he had accomplished in office, pointing out the Duluth lakewalk, new airport terminal, bike and hiking trails and the building of Interstate 35 overpasses.

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