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Politics & Government

Former Congressman Vernon Ehlers dies

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Former Michigan Congressman Vernon Ehlers has died.

Melissa Morrison, funeral director at Zaagman Memorial Chapel, said Wednesday that Ehlers died late Tuesday at a Grand Rapids nursing facility. He was 83. 

Ehlers represented Michigan's Third Congressional District for 17 years from December 1993 until he retired in 2011.

The Third District covers Kent, Barry, and Ionia counties.

Ehlers was a nuclear physicist and college professor before he ran for Congress. 

He also served in the Michigan Legislature. 

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) said in a statement, “I am saddened to learn of Congressman Ehlers’ passing. Vern was a passionate public servant that loved his constituents, our state and the Great Lakes. While we did not serve together in Congress, his reputation preceded him. Vern was a leader who valued country over party and always strived for bipartisan consensus."

In Congress, he sought protections for the Great Lakes and funding for math and science education.

Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who served with Ehlers, said he was "so well-respected on both sides of the aisle, hard-working and always a teacher at heart." He says his "common-sense voice ... is all too rare in today's political climate."

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