Former House Speaker Tom Foley Dies at 84 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Former House Speaker Tom Foley Dies at 84

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WASHINGTON - Former U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley has died at the age of 84 in his home. 

Foley's wife, Heather, says the Washington state Democrat died at his home in the nation's capital.

Foley became the first speaker since the Civil War to fail to win re-election in his home district.

The courtly politician lost his seat in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. The Democrat had never served a single day in the minority.

He was defeated by Republican Spokane lawyer George Nethercutt. Foley served as U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years during the Clinton administration. But he spent the most time in the House, serving 30 years including more than five as speaker.

The following is Washington Governor Jay Inslee's statement on Foley's death.

"Washington lost a historic figure today with the passing of former U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley. Trudi and I extend our condolences to Heather, the entire Foley family and his friends. 

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, prosecutor, Ambassador to Japan - Tom Foley did all of those things in the course of his life. And at the heart of every one of those roles was a passion to serve. He served the victims of crime. He served the citizens of Spokane. He served the state of Washington. And he served this great nation of ours. He was a giant at a time when bipartisan cooperation for the good of the country was the norm, not the exception. 

He dedicated his life to making his community, his state, and his country a better place. He did it by reaching across the aisle, by bringing people together, by finding common ground. A true statesman knows how to unite people around their mutual, shared interests, while still respecting the differences among individuals. That's the example Tom set, and it's something all public servants should strive to emulate.

It was an honor to serve with him during my time in Congress. He will be missed."