Former congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) has died, according to the Associated Press. He was 81.

Skelton's death was confirmed by his colleague, Russell Orban.

Skelton served 17 terms in Congress, rising to chairman of the Armed Services Committee before his defeat in the GOP wave of 2010. He was succeeded by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement called Skelton "a selfless patriot who led with humility and put his country and constituents first."

“A proud son of Missouri, Congressman Skelton's quiet confidence and unwavering conviction is a tribute to his roots and a testament to the political courage that defines the best traditions of leadership," Pelosi said. "We only hope it is a comfort to his wife Patty and his children that so many people mourn their loss at this sad time.”

Added Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who served in the House with Skelton: "No member of the Congress was more dedicated to America's defense and those who defend us than Ike Skelton."