Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the last surviving brother in a political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod after a year-long struggle with brain cancer, according to The Associated Press. He was 77.
Kennedy, a liberal Democrat, served nearly 50 years in the Senate alongside 10 presidents, including his brother, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The Massachusetts senator racked up an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.
His singular White House attempt ended in defeat in 1980. But more than 25 years later, he endorsed Barack Obama, then a senator, at a critical point in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, comparing the young contender to President Kennedy.
Sen. Kennedy was best known to the American people as the last surviving son of the country’s most glamorous political family, as a father figure and eulogist of an Irish-American clan plagued again and again by tragedy.
Democrats, Republicans and foreign leaders paid tribute to Kennedy’s legacy.
“An important chapter in our history has come to an end,’’ President Obama said in a written statement, according to the AP. “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time.’’
Obama, who was vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast, continued: “For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.’’
Pictured above is Sen. Edward Kennedy.