Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who resigned from office in 2014 due to health issues and general frustration with partisan gridlock in Washington, passed away on Friday following a long and recurring battle with prostate cancer, The Hill reported. He was 72.
Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, was a staunchly conservative Christian who was pro-life and pro-gun. He was also a vociferous champion of limited government, even earning the nickname “Dr. No” for his unyielding opposition to spending bills that he viewed as frivolous and wasteful.
“A model and mentor”
According to The Oklahoman, Coburn is survived by his wife, Carolyn, as well as their three daughters and nine grandchildren.
He was remembered as a man of “strong faith” by his family.
“Because of his strong faith, he rested in the hope found in John chapter 11 verse 25 where Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, will live, even though they die.’ Today he lives in heaven,” Coburn’s family said in a statement, according to The Hill.
Others called Coburn a “model” and “mentor.”
“He lived every day as if it were his last and took grand stands without grandstanding,” John Hart, Coburn’s former communications director, tweeted Saturday, according to The Hill. “It was never about him. He took on all sides and was loved by all sides. A model and mentor for the ages.”
“A crucial partner”
According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Coburn’s “famous nickname” didn’t fully live up to who he was as a legislator.
“He did not let his strong principles sideline him from creative policymaking or bipartisan cooperation,” McConnell said, according to The Oklahoman. “Tom’s convictions did not drive him away from the table. They inspired him to become a central player. It took him less than two terms to become a master of the oversight process and a crucial partner in major legislation.”
Coburn also had a friend in former President Barack Obama, The Washington Post reported.
Prior to his career in politics, Coburn was a doctor who specialized in obstetrics, according to the Post. He entered national politics in 1994 when he won a seat in the U.S. House, though he retired after three terms serving his Oklahoma district, fulfilling a campaign promise to term-limit himself, The Hill reported.
Coburn later returned to politics with a successful run for the U.S. Senate in 2004, according to The Hill. He won re-election in 2010 before retiring in 2014 due to a recurrence of prostate cancer.