Former Rep. Neal Smith dies age 101, longest Iowan to serve in U.S. House

Former Rep. Neal Smith died on Tuesday at age 101. He was the longest Iowan to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and, at the time of his death, was the oldest living current or former Congressperson.

Photo of Neal Smith from Wikimedia Commons.

Photo of Neal Smith from Wikimedia Commons.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Former Rep. Neal Smith, D-Iowa, died on Tuesday at 101. Iowa’s elected officials at the state and federal levels have put out words of condolences. 

Smith was the longest-serving Iowan in the House of Representatives, serving from 1959 to 1995, and was the oldest living former or current member of Congress. 

Iowa Democratic Chair and state Rep. Ross Wilburn said in a press release he is mourning the loss of Smith and recognized him as an icon who served the country and state with honor. 

Smith devoted time to Iowa wildlife through the development of the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge in Jasper County, Iowa. Wilburn said he appreciated Smith’s devotion to public service and it is prevalent in his fingertips across the Iowa natural landscape. 

“We will never be able to thank him enough for everything he gave to Iowa,” Wilburn said. “I hope his loved ones find peace and comfort in his memory and the transformational legacy he leaves behind.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley shared in a tweet that he worked together with Smith worked for bipartisan policy and said he was mentored by Smith when he had first started in Congress. 

Rep. Cindy Axne also sent out a tweet saying her thoughts are with the family of Smith and that she will always be grateful for his service to Iowa. 

“Neal Smith dedicated his life to fighting on behalf of his fellow Iowans — from WWII through his nearly four decades in Congress,” Axne said in a tweet. 

Rep. Ashley Hinson also shared on Twitter on Wednesday saying she was saddened by the loss. 

“He was a true public servant who cared deeply about bettering the lives of Iowans,” Hinson said.

Abby Finkenaur, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate said in a press release that as a WWII veteran and Congressman of 36 years, he was a public servant that many looked up to. 

“His commitment to protecting Iowa farmers, cleaning up corruption in government, and preserving our natural resources has left a lasting mark throughout our state that will forever remind us of his impact on Iowa,” Finkenaur said. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a statement regarding Smith’s death where she said he faithfully served Iowa and through his bipartisan work, Rep. Smith understood the importance of Iowa’s agriculture while also playing a vital role in changing Iowa’s natural landscape with the creation of the Saylorville and Red Rock reservoirs. 

“Rep. Neal Smith was an American hero and a true Iowa treasure,” Reynolds said. “He faithfully served our state as Iowa’s longest-serving member in the U.S. House of Representatives and served our nation in the Army Air Forces, receiving the Purple Heart.” 

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