Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., died Sunday in Greenville, N.C., 15 days after his family announced that he had entered hospice care. He was 76.
“Congressman Jones was a man of the people,” his office said in a statement. “With a kind heart and the courage of his convictions, he dedicated his life to serving his Savior and to standing up for Americans who needed a voice.”
Jones had suffered a broken hip at his home on Jan. 14 and underwent surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville the following day. His family issued a statement on Jan. 26 announcing that he had entered hospice care and asking for privacy.
JOHN DINGELL, LONGEST-SERVING MEMBER OF CONGRESS, DIES AT 92
Jones had battled a series of ailments in recent years and was granted a leave of absence from Congress late last year after missing a number of House votes.
Jones was first elected to Congress in 1994 and represented the state’s 3rd District, which includes the cities of Kinston, Greenville and New Bern, for his entire career. He was re-elected in November after running unopposed.
An earlier supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Jones was credited with leading the campaign to rechristen the House cafeteria’s French fries as “freedom fries” in response to the Paris government’s opposition to military action. However, he later regretted authorizing then-President George W. Bush to use force to topple Saddam Hussein.
“I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of mass destruction,” Jones told North Carolina radio host Tyler Cralle in 2015. “Because I did not do my job then, I helped kill 4,000 Americans, and I will go to my grave regretting that.”
Prior to his election to Congress, Jones served 10 years in the North Carolina House of Representatives. His father, Walter Jones, Sr., represented North Carolina’s neighboring 1st District as a Democrat between 1966 and his death in 1992.
“Deeply saddened by the passing of Walter Jones—a beloved colleague and friend who had a profound impact on all through his graciousness, character, and committed Christian faith,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., tweeted. “God be with and keep his family. We will miss him.”
Fox News’ Pamela Ng and The Associated Press contributed to this report.