Former House Transportation Chairman Jim Oberstar dies at 79

Jim OberstarJim Oberstar

Former Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), a transportation advocate and expert, died in his sleep Friday night, Politico reports.

Oberstar, Minnesota’s longest-serving congressman, chaired the House Transportation Committee for four years during his 18 terms in Congress, which spanned from 1975 to 2011, according to a report from The Hill.

The Politico report notes that Oberstar was passionate about transportation and would often try to keep conversations interesting: “Just when a 200-year history of the federal government’s role in navigable waters might be boring some in the hearing room, he’d throw in a few lines of French to keep everybody on their toes.”