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Boston Congressman Dies ( also lost his wife Evelyn to a brain tumor just five years ago....- May 28 5:26 PM ET


Posted on: 05/28/2001

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Tuesday May 29 02:26 AM EDT "Boston Congressman Dies"

Boston Congressman Dies


Rep. Joseph Moakley, D-Mass., has died of complications from leukemia.

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Legendary Rep. Joseph Moakley, a beloved Democrat representing a heavily Irish district in South Boston, has died this afternoon. He was 74 years old. His death comes about three months after he announced that he was leaving Congress after 15 terms because he had "an incurable form of leukemia."

The news of his retirement came as a shock to the constituents. He had battled prior health problems, undergoing a liver transplant in 1995 that that saved his life. However, at a press conference in February, he said that the "prognosis is not good."

Proud Son of South Boston

Joe Moakley defined himself as a proud son of South Boston. Aside from service in World War II and his trips to Washington, he lived his entire life in that community.

Moakley was elected to the state House of Representatives at age 25. From there, he went on to serve in the state Senate and on the Boston City Council before first winning a congressional seat in 1972.

Moakley rose to become chairman of the House Rules Committee. In 1989, he was appointed to lead a special team investigating human rights abuses in El Salvador (news - web sites).

Moakley's report detailed the involvement of high-ranking Salvadoran officials in the murder of six American Jesuits, and is regarded as helping to end the Salvadoran civil war.

He was a disciple of former speaker "Tip" O'Neill, and he subscribed to his mentor's adage: "all politics is local."

Routine Exam Found Cancer

The leukemia diagnosis came in a routine medical exam in February. He also lost his wife Evelyn to a brain tumor just five years ago.

Moakley's departure, while a personal blow to the Democrats, is not likely to lose them the seat in the House. The district is heavily Democratic and Moakley's replacement seems likely to be chosen in the Democratic primary.

ABCNEWS' Andy Field in Washington contributed to this report.

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