Longtime Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid died Tuesday at the age of 82.
Reid, who dedicated 35 years to representing Nevada in Washington, D.C., served as Senate Majority Leader from 2007–2015 and after that was Minority Leader for two years.
Although no cause of death has been revealed, Reid had surgery for pancreatic cancer at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in mid-May 2018 after a tumor was found on his pancreas during a routine screening.
‘As soon as you discover you have something on your pancreas, you’re dead,’ Reid said of his diagnosis at the time.
Less than a year later, it was revealed that Reid could no longer move without the aid of a walker
In February 2019, Reid announced his cancer was in remission due to early detection and chemotherapy.
‘Harry Reid was one of the most amazing individuals I have ever met,’ Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a statement on his passing on Tuesday.
‘He was tough-as-nails strong but caring and compassionate, and always went out of his way quietly to help people who needed help,’ he added. ‘He was a boxer who came from humble origins, but he never forgot where he came from and used those boxing instincts to fearlessly fight those who were hurting the poor and the middle class.’
‘He was my leader, my mentor, one of my dearest friends,’ said Schumer, who succeeded Reid as Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate in 2017.
Schumer concluded: ‘He’s gone but he will walk by the sides of many of us in the Senate every single day.’
The lifelong politician is survived by his wife Landra Gould and five children.
Earlier this month, the McCarran International Airport right outside Las Vegas, Nevada was renamed to the Harry Reid International Airport in honor of the lawmaker. He called the renaming of the airport where he spent decades commuting to D.C. one of the ‘greatest honors’ of his life.
First entering politics in 1969 as a member of the Nevada Assembly from the state’s 4th district, Reid eventually rose to the highest position in the United States Senate.
Reid served in the U.S. Senate representing Nevada for two decades, and before that was a U.S. representative. Pictured: Reid (left) in the East Room of the White House on July 22, 1998 with then-President Bill Clinton (right) and then-Senator Carol Moseley-Braun from Illinois (center)
From 1983-1987, Reid represented Nevada’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives – in his first position in D.C. and not in his home state.
He then spent two decades after that as a Democratic senator for Nevada where he served in various leadership roles, including as majority and minority whip, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus and minority and majority leader.
In 2016, as Reid prepared to end his tenure in politics, he told The Washington Post: ‘It’s going to be an adjustment, I wish I could stay in the Senate forever.’
As a young man, Reid was an amateur boxer. While attending high school, one of Reid’s teachers and his boxing coach was Mike O’Callaghan who went on to become Nevada’s Democratic governor from 1971-1979.
When attending George Washington University Law School, Reid worked as a police officer for the United States Capitol Police.
Upon earning his J.D. in 1964, Reid got involved with politics by moving back to Nevada and serving as Henderson city attorney. He was soon after elected to the Nevada Assembly for the 4th district of Clark County in 1968.