Former US Rep Lane Evans, Veterans Advocate, Dies

Former Congressman Lane Evans, who died Wednesday, in 2006.

Former Congressman Lane Evans, D-Ill., left, is greeted by Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, during a gathering hosted by veterans groups honoring Evans for his years of service, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, June 7, 2006, in Washington.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Former U.S. Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, a former Marine who fought for veterans' rights during his 24 years in office, has died after a long fight with Parkinson's disease.

His legal guardian and former congressional staffer Michael Malmstrom says Evans died Wednesday at a nursing home in East Moline, Illinois. The Democrat was 63.
Evans was first elected from his western Illinois district in 1982, and went on to serve 12 terms.
Evans announced he wouldn't seek re-election in 2006, citing his deteriorating health. He left office in January 2007.
The Vietnam War-era veteran served overseas in Okinawa, Japan.

Evans was first elected in 1982 and served on the Veterans, Agriculture, and Armed Services committees. 

Mike Mahlmstrom became Evans' guardian in 2007. And he said the congressman earned many titles, but preferred just to be called "Lane."

"People of all walks of life--even if they didn't agree with him--respected him. He was a congressman who was a regular person like you and I, and he was one that would fight for the little guy," he said.

As a congressman, he fought for the rights of veterans, including pushing legislation to help those exposed to Agent Orange.
He is survived by his three brothers.  The funeral will be Monday in Moline.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin released a statement Thursday morning:

“Illinois lost one of its kindest, most caring public servants with the passing of my friend and colleague Lane Evans.  When I last visited him, I told him our friend Barack Obama still remembered his quiet courage as a Congressman.  I recall our many common causes for veterans and our downstate districts and, of course, our many hard fought campaigns.

“Lane told me years later that it was during a joint appearance in 1996 at a Labor Day parade in Galesburg that he first felt the numbing in his hand which led to his Parkinson's diagnosis: a disease that trapped his body but never restrained his great spirit. Thank heavens for Lane Evans.” 

13th District Congressman Rodney Davis also released a statement regarding Evans' passing:

"Congressman Lane Evans represented parts of the 13th Congressional District through his time in Congress, and his commitment to constituent service and advocacy for veterans and working Americans is something that I will always try to emulate. Lane will be remembered as a fighter, both for the people he represented and his decades-long battle with Parkinson's disease. Shannon and I send our thoughts and prayers to Lane's family, and thank them for his service to our country."

President Obama released a statement Thursday evening.

"Lane was one of my earliest supporters when I ran for the Senate, and I was proud to have him by my side when I when I was elected President.  Above all, Lane was an American hero, a dear friend and a beloved public servant of the people of Illinois. Michelle and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Lane’s family and friends, and the people he represented in Congress who loved him so dearly."

Story source: AP