CLEVELAND - Colleagues and friends are remembering former Congressman Steve LaTourette, who passed away Wednesday after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
LaTourette, 62, represented Ohio’s 14 Congressional District, including all of Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula Counties, for 18 years from 1995 to 1013.
The Republican’s legacy of working across the aisle is among the reasons he stepped down amid partisan gridlock.
“For a long time, words like compromise have been dirty words,” LaTourette said while announcing his plans to step down, “The overwhelming criticism for me is that I vote funny according to my party and I’m not interested in giving them my wallet or my voting card.”
Before Congress, LaTourette was Lake County Prosecutor for six years and became well-known for prosecuting Kirtland cult killer Jeffrey Lundgren.
“Really just a good guy, somebody I could go to at any point in time, someone who would answer any question and someone who was really helpful,” said Rep. Jim Renacci, a Republican representing the 16th District.
LaTourette was assigned to be Renacci’s mentor when he arrived in Congress.
“He absolutely had a great sense of humor, and that's the one thing I'll always remember, too. He was the one guy even when you were down on the House floor, he'd make you smile, he'd make you laugh,” Renacci said.
LaTourette was also very serious about helping all of Northeast Ohio. In 2005, he led efforts to save 1,200 jobs at the Defense Financing and Accounting Service office in downtown Cleveland, which provides payment services for the Department of Defense.
"It’s not a partisan issue, it’s not a City of Cleveland issue, it’s a bipartisan, regional issue and you are going to have my help on it,” he told employees at the time.
LaTourette was unafraid to buck party trends. He was among the few Republicans to vote "no" on defunding National Public Radio and a measure to hold Democratic Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of congress.
He worked together with democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich daily.
“The thing about Steve LaTourette is that party was second to him. The first thing was getting results,” Kucinich said.
After leaving congress, LaTourette led a Washington lobbying firm.
Officials across the political spectrum released statements paying tribute.
“I am proud to have known and worked with Steve LaTourette. He cared deeply about our state and our nation and his family can take great pride in the legacy he has left us,” Gov. John Kasich said.
“Congressman Steve LaTourette was a true professional and public servant,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson in a statement. “He worked across party lines to benefit all regardless of their political party. Most of all, Steve was a good man. He will be missed by the Greater Cleveland area and me personally.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called him a workhorse.
“Steve was also respected by members of both parties and worked with legislators from both sides of the aisle to get things done,” he said in a statement.
LaTourette leaves behind a wife and six children.