WASHINGTON - Democratic US Senator Frank Lautenberg, 89, the last surviving World War II veteran in the US Congress, has died, a party aide said on Monday.
Lautenberg, of New Jersey, passed away after battling a number of ailments that allowed him to make only a few appearances on Capitol Hill in recent months, including his vote in favor of a failed bill to expand background checks for gun owners.
Last week, Lautenberg was honored in New York with the Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life's "Renaissance Award," given each year to someone whose work has impacted Jewish life.
Forty-one years ago, he established the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology at the Hebrew University Medical Faculty. He did so in memory of the Jerusalem-born rabbi, Shai Shacknai, who presided over Lautenberg's Reform synagogue in his hometown of Paterson, New Jersey, and died of cancer at 36, leaving a wife and two young children. Lautenberg was so upset over his passing that he endowed the Rabbi Shai Shacknai Prize awarded annually by the center to honor leading cancer researchers from abroad.
He was born in Paterson to Mollie and Sam Lautenberg, poor Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland who were brought as babies to the US.
A temporary replacement will be named by New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie. A Democratic aide said Christie is expected to name a Republican to replace Lautenberg.