WALLA WALLA — Rep. Bill Grant, a rare Democrat representing Eastern Washington, died just one month after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Grant, 71, died at a hospital in Walla Walla on Sunday, House Democratic spokeswoman Melinda McCrady said today.
Grant served 22 years in the Legislature. He was re-elected in November, representing the 16th District that covers Walla Walla and Columbia counties, as well as portions of Benton and Franklin counties.
A replacement will be appointed to his seat until a special election can be held in November, McCrady said.
“Bill was one-of-a-kind. He was a man of the land, and he brought his farmer’s values of community, hard work and perseverance to the House of Representatives where he served for 22 years,” House Speaker Frank Chopp said in a statement. “Throughout his career, everyone who met him appreciated his honesty, generosity, and wonderful sense of humor.”
Longtime family friend and Walla Walla County Commissioner Perry Dozier said Grant and his family had been optimistic about beating the rare form of lung cancer. The situation deteriorated when he was hospitalized last week with pneumonia.
“But this came quicker than anyone thought,” he said.
Grant’s death will leave a “huge spot to fill,” said Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla.
“I just absolutely loved Bill, I’m just aching for his family and his legislative family will just be devastated,” she said.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy, four children and 11 grandchildren.