POWELL BUTTE, Ore. - Former Oregon House Speaker Lynn Lundquist died Tuesday at his Powell Butte home. He was 78.
Lundquist's daughter, Brenda Blankenship, told The Associated Press he died suddenly Tuesday morning.
Crook County Judge Mike McCabe told The Oregonian that medics were called to Lundquist's home but were unable to save him. He said he did not have a cause of death but added that he had seemed in good health recently.
Lundquist was elected to the state House in 1994 and became speaker two years later. After one term as speaker, he was ousted by fellow Republican Rep. Lynn Snodgrass.
He ran for secretary of state in 2000 but lost the GOP nomination to Snodgrass and became the first leader of the Oregon Business Association.
Lundquist owned a ranch near Powell Butte in Central Oregon. He served one term on the Crook County Court before losing his re-election bid in 2010.
He was remembered Tuesday by political leaders from both parties as an energetic voice committed to working across the aisle to make life better for Oregonians.
First elected to the Oregon House in 1994, Lundquist served during a time when term limits were in effect and the membership of the body was rapidly changing.
He became speaker in 1997 but was ousted from the position by Snodgrass, R-Boring, for the next session after some questioned whether he was sufficiently conservative in his views.
Lundquist and Snodgrass then competed for the Republican nomination for secretary of state in 2000. She won, but then lost the general election.
Rep. Greg Walden-R-Ore., issued the following statement after learning of Lundquist's passing:
"Lynn worked harder than anyone I know. He cared deeply about kids, Oregon, and the country. He stood tall for what he believed was right, even if it wasn't always popular. And always at his side was his wife, Barb. My prayers are with her and their family," Walden said.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., issued this statement:
"Lynn was a powerful voice for education, rural issues, and bipartisan problem solving. I was honored to serve with him in the Oregon legislature and to work with him in his roles as founder and director of the Oregon Business Association. He was a good friend and will be deeply missed."
Gov. John Kitzhaber also issued remarks about Lundquist's passing:
"Lynn Lundquist was a friend and valued colleague who dedicated his career to making Oregon a stronger and better place. As an elected official, he worked to develop the Quality Education model, and after leaving office led the Oregon Business Association. Lynn was a passionate advocate who brought common sense and dignity to the Capitol and represented Central Oregon with pride. His contributions to Oregon will live on in many ways, and he will be missed."
Oregon lawmakers also expressed their condolences and recollections about the respected former lawmaker.
"Lynn Lundquist had a remarkable energy and unwavering devotion to doing what he thought was right for Oregon," said House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland.
"Despite his willingness to wade into the middle of the tough conversations, Lynn was beloved by Oregonians across the political spectrum for his kindness and good humor," she said. "Our state is better for his leadership, and those of us who knew him are better for the mark he left on our lives. He will be missed, but his spirit will carry on."
House Republican Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, said, "For those of us who knew him as a neighbor, he was always a helpful hand. He was a typical Oregonian who fought hard for his constituents and worked across the aisle to make legislation better. Because of his work in the House, Oregon is a better place."
"All of us will have done well if they say of us one day that we never let anything get in the way of what's best for Oregonians, and that we always knew how to lend a hand with a smile. That was Lynn Lundquist," McLane said.
Crook County Commissioner Ken Fahlgren said Lundquist appeared to be in good health and from his knowledge "never had a sick day in his life."
He said Lundquist was in Salem three times last week, working on charter school legislation.