Congressman Tom Lantos, D-CA, died today at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland, surrounded by his wife, two daughters, and many of his 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Lantos was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in December, and announced last month that he would not seek re-election, instead endorsing feminist Jackie Speier to fill his seat.
Elected in 1980, Lantos was serving his 14th term in Congress. He was the only Holocaust survivor to win a seat in Congress. He was Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and one of the country’s leading human rights advocates. Lantos was the founding co-chairman of the 24-year-old Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which his wife Annette Lantos directed as a volunteer since its inception. He also founded the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus.
Annette Lantos said in a statement that her husband’s life was “defined by courage, optimism, and unwavering dedication to his principles and to his family.” A date has not yet been set for a public memorial service.