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Benishek death opportunity to recall public service

Former congressman Dan Benishek died unexpectedly Friday night at 69 years of age.

Benishek was born in Iron River on April 20, 1952. According to his obituary, “From the time he was 5 years old, he and his younger brother were raised by his mother, Helen Benishek, after his father, Joseph Benishek, died in a mining accident.

“Dan went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and proceeded to acquire his medical degree from Wayne State University. He then returned home to the U.P. to practice medicine.”

A Republican from Crystal Falls when he ran for office in 2010, Benishek was known informally as “Dr. Dan” because of a career in medical practice, which included working as a surgeon at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain.

Benishek served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Michigan’s First District from 2011 to 2017.

Choosing to not seek re-election, his seat in Congress was won by current U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, who voiced sorrow at Benishek’s passing.

“Cindy (Bergman) and I are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Congressman ‘Dr. Dan’ Benishek. Dr. Dan was passionate in his love for the Upper Peninsula, a respected physician, and served Michigan with sincerity and honor,” Bergman said in a statement. “While there will be much more to say about his life and legacy in the days ahead  Judy (Benishek), the Benishek family, and all of Team Benishek will be in our prayers during this time of grief.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued this statement:

“Today, Yoopers and Michiganders lost a fighter. Congressman Benishek represented the spirit of ‘Sisu’ during his time in office. In Congress, he championed our men and women in uniform, advocated fiercely for veterans, and worked to protect Sleeping Bear Dunes. As a physician and an elected official, Dan put people first. My thoughts are with his wife, children, and grandchildren.”

According to the governor’s office, U.S. and Michigan flags were to be lowered in Benishek’s honor.

We salute Benishek s service to the First District and its residents and express our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

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