Robert H. Mollohan, 89, a West Virginia Democrat who served 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and a onetime candidate for governor of his home state, died of cancer Aug. 3 at Washington Hospital Center.

Rep. Mollohan was a former insurance agent who spent most of his adult life in public service. He first served in Congress from 1953 to 1957, then unsuccessfully ran for the governorship of West Virginia.

He eventually regained his congressional seat, representing the northern panhandle from 1968 until his retirement in 1982. Among his most notable races was a Democratic primary victory over Washington Redskins linebacker Sam Huff in 1970.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Mollohan was a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and a ranking member of the investigations subcommittee, the seapower and strategic and critical materials subcommittee and the research and development subcommittee.

He also served on the House Administration Committee and was chairman of the subcommittee on office systems.

Following his retirement, he settled in Charlestown, W.Va., and pursued a number of business ventures in northern West Virginia.

Born in Grantsville, W.Va., Rep. Mollohan attended Glenville College and began a civil service career in 1933 as deputy collector of the U.S. Internal Revenue Bureau in Parkersburg, W.Va. He became a protege of the late governor and Democratic Sen. Matthew M. Neely, and he served as a clerk for the Senate District Committee in the early 1950s.

Survivors include his wife of 68 years, Helen Holt Mollohan of Chestertown, W.Va.; three children, Robert Holt Mollohan of Grafton, W.Va., Kathryn Nelson of Falls Church and U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan of Fairmont, W.Va.; 11 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.