Former GOP senator and Ohio Gov. George Voinovich dies

His wife, Janet, says Voinovich died peacefully in his sleep early Sunday

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009, urging the Obama Administration and Congress to take action to address the nation's growing financial problems. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. is at left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009, urging the Obama Administration and Congress to take action to address the nation's growing financial problems. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. is at left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Former U.S. senator and two-term Ohio Gov. George Voinovich has died at home in Cleveland. He was 79.

His wife, Janet, says Voinovich died peacefully in his sleep early Sunday. The Republican had delivered public remarks Friday at a 25th Slovenian Independence Day event at Cleveland City Hall. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention coming to Cleveland next month.

Voinovich preached frugality in his personal and public life and occasionally bucked the GOP establishment. He opposed the size of former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and later questioned Bush’s war strategy in Iraq.

Voinovich spent 12 years in the Senate, leaving in 2011. He previously served two terms as Ohio’s governor and a decade as mayor of Cleveland, which he helped pull out of default.

Governor John R. Kasich released the following statement on the passing of former Ohio senator, governor and Cleveland mayor George V. Voinovich:

“I am very saddened today by the passing of my friend George Voinovich. I respected him greatly and had a deep affection for him. His love for our state and his hometown of Cleveland was only surpassed by his love for his family and his wife Janet. He was guided by two ideas: love God and love your neighbor, and by faithfully applying them throughout his life he helped Ohioans see how much they could accomplish by working together.

“He was a unifier who thought outside the box, never gave up and worked hard for the ideas he believed in up until the very end of his life. Thanks to that leadership he saved Cleveland, governed Ohio compassionately and responsibly and was a candid voice for reason in the U.S. Senate. I am proud to have known him and grateful for what he did for our state and nation.

“To his wife Janet, his children and his many grandchildren, my family sends our condolences and heartfelt prayers at this difficult time, and on behalf of Ohio I send my gratitude for sharing this wonderful, dynamic man with us for so many years.”

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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