WASHINGTON (October 18, 2013)--Former Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley has died at the age of 84 in his home in Washington, D.C., his wife Heather said Friday.
Foley became the first speaker since the Civil War to fail to win re-election in his home district in Washington state.
The courtly politician lost his seat in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994 to Republican Spokane lawyer George Nethercutt.
He had never served a single day in the minority.
Foley served as U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years during the Clinton administration, but he spent the most time in the House, serving 30 years including more than five as speaker.
Former President George H.W. Bush, in a statement issued by spokesman Jim McGrath,said Foley "represented the very best in public service - and our political system."
Bush said Foley "always fought for his principles - he was always well-informed and well-reasoned - but Tom never got personal or burned bridges."
He saidthat he and Foley "didn't agree on every issue" but managed on key issues "to put the good of the country ahead of politics."