Rep. Don Young, longtime Alaska congressman, dies at 88

FILE - In this June 28, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Don Young answers a reporter's question after filing paperwork for re-election at the Alaska Division of Elections in Anchorage, Alaska. Young, the longest-serving member of Alaska’s congressional delegation, died Friday, March 18, 2022. He was 88. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska Rep. Don Young, who was the longest-serving Republican in the history of the U.S. House, died Friday night. 

Young’s office said details about plans for a celebration of Young’s life were expected in the coming days. 

Young, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 1973, was known for his brusque style. In his later years in office, his off-color comments and gaffes sometimes overshadowed his work. 

In March 1973, Young won a special election and held the seat until his death. 

In 2013, Young became the longest-serving member of Alaska’s congressional delegation, surpassing the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, who served for 40 years. 

The often-gruff Young had a sense of humor and a camaraderie with colleagues from both sides of the aisle. 

As the House member with the longest service, Young swore in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, when the 117th Congress convened on Jan. 3, 2021. Before administering the oath of office, Young expressed dismay about the period’s intense partisanship. 

“When you do have a problem or if there’s something so contentious, let’s sit down and have a drink, and solve those problems,” he said, drawing laughter and applause. 

Pelosi, in a statement, said Young’s “reverence and devotion to the House shone through in everything that he did.” She called him “an institution in the hallowed halls of Congress.” 

“Alaskans have been generous with their support for me because they know I get the job done,” he said in 2016. “I’ll defend my state to the dying breath, and I will always do that and they know that.”