RICHMOND — Del. Lacey Putney, a five-decade veteran of Virginia’s House and chairman of its powerful Appropriations Committee, announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election.

The Bedford independent is Virginia’s longest-serving state legislator.

“When first elected in 1961, I had no plans to seek a second term,” Putney said in a statement Wednesday night. “Now, after 52 years of service, I have reached one of the most difficult decisions of my adult life.”

Putney missed the opening of the General Assembly session this year after suffering a minor stroke, but quickly recovered and got back to work, as the Roanoke Times reported. He told the Lynchburg News & Advance in August that he was being treated for throat cancer.

Putney began his career as a Democrat but soon became an independent. He caucuses with Republicans, who control the House by a wide margin.

“For the past 52 years, Lacey Putney has served Virginia with distinction,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside of him and we will miss him and his leadership greatly. Words cannot express the impact Lacey has had on the Commonwealth. On behalf of the entire House of Delegates, I wish Lacey all the best in his retirement and thank him for his many years of service.”