Orrin Hatch, who represented Utah as the longest serving Republican senator in history, died on Saturday at 88.
Hatch’s death was announced Saturday evening by his foundation, according to the Associated Press.
“The Hatch Foundation sadly announces the passing of Senator Orrin G. Hatch—the Chairman Emeritus of the Hatch Foundation, former President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, and longest-serving Senator in Utah history (1977-2019). Senator Hatch passed away at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah, surrounded by family,” a statement from the Hatch Foundation read.
Hatch served in the Senate for 42 years. He was first elected in 1976 and retired in 2018, NBC News reported. He famously defended Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was being targeted by Democrats with sexual harassment allegations during his confirmation hearings.
The senator from Utah stood firm on limiting abortion throughout his career and fought for fiscal conservatism.
“Upon his retirement, Senator Hatch held the distinction of having passed more legislation into law than any other Senator alive,” the Hatch Foundation statement said. “Through his relentless work ethic, Hatch earned a reputation as one of the most effective and bipartisan lawmakers of all time. In total, he sponsored or cosponsored more than 750 bills that became law.”
Hatch was born in 1934 in Homestead Park, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1959 with a degree in history and moved to Utah 10 years later.
Hatch leaves behind his wife Elaine and six children.
Republican politicians took to social media to remember their former colleague after news of his death broke.
“Sad to learn of the passing of my friend Orrin Hatch /I worked closely w Senator Hatch for 40yrs on the [judicial committee] +20 yrs on Finance [committee] we had a very good friendship he has contributed so much to public policy& for the ppl of Utah Barbara & I send our sympathies to his family,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tweeted.
“Today we lost a jewel and true American statesman in former Senator Orrin Hatch. He was a great colleague & mentor—and left a truly remarkable legacy in the Senate. My heart is with Elaine & the family,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) wrote.
Hatch was also remembered fondly by those across the aisle who worked with him for decades on issues such as stem cell research and children’s health insurance. He was known for extending an arm to Democrats when he could and advocating for political civility, Politico reported.
“So sorry to hear that Senator Orrin Hatch has died,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said. “We worked together on health issues on the Finance Committee, and he was passionate about serving the people of Utah. Sending my prayers to his family.”
This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.