Rep. Don Young Dead

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Republican Alaska Rep. Don Young, who served as the Dean of the House, died Friday at the age of 88, his office confirmed.

“It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce Congressman Don Young (R-AK), the Dean of the House and revered champion of Alaska, passed away today while traveling home to Alaska to be with the state and people that he loved,” a statement from Young’s office read. “His beloved wife Anne was by his side.”

Young’s former chief of staff Jack Ferguson said he lost consciousness on a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle, according to the Anchorage Daily News. He said he was informed that Young had died in Concourse B. In his shock, Ferguson neglected to ask which airport he had died in, according to Alaska Public Media. (RELATED: Republican Congressman In Office For 45 Years Could Lose Re-Election)

Young was first elected to Congress in 1973 and had been in the midst of running for his 26th term in the House, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The representative had fundraisers slated in Anchorage and Juneau next week.

His office’s statement honored his contribution to constructing the Trans-Alaska pipeline, the Ketchikan Shipyard and crafting the Magnuson Stevens Act, which it said “transformed the American fishing industry.”

“Don Young’s legacy cannot be overstated,” the statement continued. “Don Young’s legacy as a fighter for the state will live on, as will his fundamental goodness and his honor. We will miss him dearly.”

Ferguson described Young as having been “vibrant” with a lot of energy who had looked forward to running for re-election with hopes of Republicans regaining control of the House, the outlet reported.

“That was his goal, and he felt he could best help the state in the position he’s held all these years,” Ferguson said. “He was vibrant, he had a lot of energy, he’s very clear of mind, spoke clearly about what he wanted to accomplish, set goals that he wanted to make happen, and was happy to be running.”