10-Term Ohio Congressman, 68, Found Dead in His Arlington Home

By Jerry Markon and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 6, 2007

Rep. Paul E. Gillmor (R-Ohio), a quiet conservative in his 19th year in the House, was found dead yesterday morning in his Arlington County townhouse, police and House Republican leaders said. He was 68.

Arlington police are investigating the lawmaker's death, but police spokesman John Lisle said it seems to be from natural causes. "It does not appear there was anything suspicious at this time," he said.

Gillmor had stents implanted to prevent heart attacks, a source familiar with the investigation said.

Bradley Mascho, Gillmor's communications director, said the congressman had complained of being tired during a trip last week through his district in northwest Ohio. "He said he was tired and he didn't feel well," said Mascho, who added that Gillmor appeared to be doing better by the end of week.

The congressman did not show up for a 10:30 a.m. hearing on Capitol Hill, Lisle said. Two aides went to his townhouse near Crystal City between 11 and 11:30 a.m. and found Gillmor's body lying near the steps leading to the second level.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R) went to the House floor to hail his fellow Ohioan as "a good friend to all of us, a colleague of mine who served for two decades. . . . He's going to be missed."

For Republicans, the death is yet another blow. Jennifer Dunn, 66, a former congresswoman from Washington state who was once a prominent member of the House Republican leadership, died yesterday, her family said. The House GOP conference lost Rep. Charles Whitlow Norwood Jr. (Ga.) to cancer this year.

Gillmor's northern Ohio district is considered safely Republican, although in the Democratic tide of 2006, Gillmor was held to 57 percent of the vote.

For a House veteran, Gillmor did not attract a lot of attention, but he was lauded by Republicans and Democrats alike as a kind and decent lawmaker. "Paul Gillmor was a man of genuine humility and deep conviction -- a great public servant and a good friend," said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Gillmor was elected to the Ohio state Senate in 1966, at age 27. He worked his way to the post of president of the Senate before taking his House seat in 1988, winning the Republican primary by 27 votes. It was the last close race of his career.

Mascho, one of the staff members who found the body, said Gillmor had flown back to Washington on Tuesday after spending the Labor Day weekend with his family at a lake house in Ohio. He drove to Capitol Hill for his final vote at 7:59 p.m. Tuesday before heading home to Arlington that night.

When Gillmor did not show up for a 9:15 a.m. staff meeting, the staff tried his cellphone but was not concerned because the congressman often went to the post office to resume his mail delivery after coming back from a recess. After Gillmor missed a 10:30 a.m. meeting of the House Financial Services Committee, staffers called and e-mailed him again. Mascho and Gillmor's chief of staff, Mark Wellman, went to the house and let themselves in with a spare key. They found Gillmor's body at the base of the stairs near the entryway.

Mascho said it was unclear whether Gillmor's wife and five children would be coming to Washington or would stay in Ohio.

"I just can't say 'shock' enough," Mascho said. "We're all in complete shock. The family is in complete shock.''

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