Republican congressman loses daughter to cancer

 August 23, 2023

Republican congressman Derrick Van Orden (Wi.) has lost his oldest daughter to cancer.

Van Orden announced that his daughter, Sydney Marie Martenis, died Tuesday morning after battling an aggressive form of cancer for a year.

"It is with the most profound sense of grief and joy that Sara Jane and I announce the passing of our oldest daughter, Sydney Marie (Van Orden) Martenis, after a year of battling a very aggressive form of cancer," Van Orden said.

Congressman loses daughter

Martenis, a mom of three, died peacefully surrounded by her family, Van Orden said.

"We are heartbroken that we cannot share her smile and laugh in person any longer but are so thankful that she is resting with our Lord and that we were able to spend these years with her and her family."

"Thank you for all of the tender mercies you have shown to our family. May God bless you all."

Van Orden, a retired Navy SEAL, was elected to serve Wisconsin's 3rd district in last year's midterm elections. Martenis was the oldest of his four children.

Her bereaved husband, Chris Martenis, paid homage in a heartbreaking statement.

"She was the hardest working, most thoughtful, and deeply caring person that I know. She was a wonderful mother – she was always surprising me with interesting and challenging experiences for our kids," Chris Martenis wrote.

"She was a better partner and wife than I deserve – she made me a better person through her example in how to be a good friend, how to care for kids, and how to take part in a loving marriage. She was exemplary – she held herself to a standard that few, if any, could meet. The world is less bright without her here."

Colleagues share condolences

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Ca.) said he's praying for Van Orden and his family.

"No parent should have to experience this kind of heartbreak," McCarthy said.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, also weighed in to express her sympathy.

"I am so incredibly sorry for your loss, [Rep. Van Orden]," Baldwin wrote. "My heart goes out to you and your loved ones grieving this loss, and I am keeping you in my thoughts during this difficult time."

Van Orden gave vent to the anguish of losing his daughter earlier this summer as the House Freedom Caucus mutinied against McCarthy, bringing business on the House floor to a halt.

At the time, Van Orden slammed the rebels for the disruption, saying he was showing up to work "every f***ing day" while his daughter was slipping away.

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