Former House Speaker Tom Foley Dies

Tom Foley

Former House Speaker Tom Foley has died. He was 84.

FOX News Radio's Jared Halpern reports from Washington:

Audio clip:

Obit Tom Foley

The Washington state Democrat served as Speaker of the House for five years during a three-decade congressional career. During the Republican Revolution of 1994, Tom Foley became the first Speaker since the Civil War to lose a re-election bid in his home district. He later served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

Current Speaker John Boehner calling Foley a natural leader... forthright and warmhearted. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi saying Foley's unrivaled ability to find common ground earned him respect on both sides of the aisle.

In Washington, Jared Halpern, FOX News Radio.

READ a statement by former President George H. W. Bush on the passing of Former Speaker Tom Foley:

"Barbara and I mourn the passing of a good man and great public servant. Tom Foley, to me, represented the very best in public service -- and our political system. He always fought for his principles; he was always well-informed and well-reasoned; but Tom never got personal or burned bridges. We didn't agree on every issue, but on key issues we managed to put the good of the country ahead of politics. Barbara and I send our condolences to his family."

READ a statement from House Speaker John Boehner on the passing of Former Speaker Tom Foley:

"Today the House mourns the loss of our beloved former colleague, Thomas S. Foley from the state of Washington. Born and raised in Spokane, Tom was elected to the House in 1964 from Washington's Fifth Congressional District. Over the course of 15 terms and countless accomplishments, he rose to become chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Majority Whip, Majority Leader, and on June 6, 1989, the 57th Speaker of the House.

It was a natural sequence for a natural leader. Forthright and warmhearted, Tom Foley endeared himself not only to the wheat farmers back home but also colleagues on both sides of the aisle. That had a lot to do with his solid sense of fairness, which remains a model for any Speaker or representative. Take it from the great Henry Hyde, who used to say of Tom, 'I wish he were a Republican.' With his passing, the House loses one of its most devoted servants and the country loses a great statesman.

The whole House extends its heartfelt sympathy to Tom's wife, Heather, a longtime friend of this institution. We will keep her and all of Tom's friends and loved ones in our prayers. He will be dearly missed."

READ a statement from Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on the passing of Former Speaker Tom Foley:

"For thirty-six years, Speaker Tom Foley served our country as a quintessential champion of the common good. A proud son of Washington state, he stood on the strength of his principles and inspired a sense of purpose and civility that reflects the best of our democracy.

In his years leading the House of Representatives, Speaker Foley's unrivaled ability to build consensus and find common ground earned him genuine respect on both sides of the aisle. The year I took office, he secured a much-needed budget compromise that restored public faith in our financial security and confidence in Congress. That characteristic passion for fairness and deep respect for others later defined his extraordinary work as President Clinton's Ambassador to Japan.

Today, our country mourns the loss of a leader whose authenticity, dedication, and diplomacy will forever serve as an example to all of us who strive to make a difference through public service. It was an honor to serve with him as a colleague; it was a privilege to know him as a friend. We only hope it is a comfort to his wife Heather and his family that so many mourn their loss at this sad time."