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By Sarah May on
 April 1, 2024

Former Massachusetts Congressman William Delahunt dies at 82

A longtime former congressman who once put his own personal plans aside to help pass a legislative agenda that he truly believed in has died after a long battle with an undisclosed illness.

Ex-Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, passed away over the weekend at the age of 82, according to the Associated Press, and his commitment to supporting the candidacy and then the presidential initiatives of Barack Obama will make his death all the more poignant to the former commander in chief and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama.

Family confirms sad news

A statement issued by Delahunt's family revealed that the former lawmaker died “peacefully,” though no official cause of death was mentioned.

The family's communication also took the opportunity to reflect on a life well lived and pay tribute to the late legislator's contributions.

“While we mourn the loss of such a tremendous person, we also celebrate his remarkable life and his legacy of dedication, service, and inspiration,” the statement declared.

Loved ones added in their message, “We could always turn to him for wisdom, solace and a laugh, and his absence leaves a gaping hole in our family and our hearts.”

Early, enthusiastic Obama backer

Having begun his career in public life as a district attorney and then a state representative, Delahunt ultimately spent 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, as NBC News noted.

It was toward the latter part of his congressional career that Delahunt was recognized for his wholehearted support of then-candidate Barack Obama and his subsequent dedication to helping secure the passage of some of the new president's key policy initiatives.

In late 2007, Delahunt became one of the earliest big-name politicians -- and the first member of the Massachusetts Washington delegation -- to endorse Obama's presidential run, as the Patriot Ledger noted at the time.

“I believe that he can be a transformational candidate,” Delahunt observed when throwing his support behind the upstart Democrat, adding his belief that Obama had “the life experience and judgment necessary to restore America to its rightful role among the family of nations and to reinvigorate our alliances.”

Delahunt's faith in Obama was so strong that he even postponed his planned retirement from the lower chamber to help the new president garner legislative support for his priorities.

Tributes pour in

In addition to remembrances offered by his family, Delahunt's passing sparked tributes from friends and former colleagues alike, with Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) recalling, “I met with Bill in Quincy in February, and he was clear and as committed as ever to working on behalf of the South Shore and the people of Massachusetts.”

“It is a fitting honor that the door of the William D. Delahunt Norfolk County Courthouse opens every day so that the people inside can do the hard work of making lives better, as Bill Delahunt did. The Commonwealth and the country are better for Bill Delahunt's vision and service,” Markey added.

Delahunt's death prompted a statement of mourning from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, with whom the former congressman once negotiated a heating oil procurement deal for the benefit of low-income Americans, an achievement emblematic of the significant breadth and impact of the ex-lawmaker's reach during his time in the House of Representatives.

Written By:
Sarah May

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