Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., delivers a speech at the YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas on June 10, 2006. Reid, the former Senate majority leader and Nevada’s longest-serving member of Congress, has died. He was 82. | Jae C. Hong, Associated Press
Former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, one of the highest ranking Latter-day Saint elected officials during his long tenure in office, died Tuesday at age 82.
“I am heartbroken to announce the passing of my husband, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He died peacefully this afternoon, surrounded by our family, following a courageous, four-year battle with pancreatic cancer,” his wife of 62 years, Landra, said in a statement.
“We are so proud of the legacy he leaves behind both on the national stage and his beloved Nevada. Harry was deeply touched to see his decades of service to Nevada honored in recent weeks with the re-naming of Las Vegas’ airport in his honor.”
Landra Reid described her husband as a devout family man and deeply loyal friend.
Reid, a Democrat, retired in January 2017 after five terms in the U.S. Senate, including eight years as majority leader and four as minority leader. He also served for years in the U.S. House before being elected to the Senate.
A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Reid’s liberal politics might have rubbed many fellow members of the faith the wrong way. But they might not know that during his 34 years in Congress, he often worked behind the scenes on behalf of the church.
Ralph Hardy Jr., a lawyer and past chairman of the church’s public affairs advisory committee in Washington, D.C., said in 2017 that Reid’s leadership roles in Congress and his commitment to the church made him a natural person to turn to. He called Reid’s efforts on Latter-day Saint issues extraordinary.
“In my personal experience, Sen. Reid has extended himself and been willing to help and roll up his sleeves and get us introduced to the right people and speak well for us,” said Hardy, who served as an area authority and stake president.
The J. Reuben Clark Law Society presented Reid with the Distinguished Public Service Award just before he retired.
“As one of the most visible public officials in the nation, he also has been one of the most influential. In every way he has been a force to be reckoned with,” Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for the church and an emeritus General Authority Seventy, said in honoring the senator in 2017.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, recalled the close relationship his family had with the Reids, including their son Josh. The Lees and the Reids lived down the street from each other when Rex E. Lee served as U.S. solicitor general.
“From his time as my family’s home teacher and father of one of my dear friends, to when we were colleagues in the Senate, Senator Harry Reid was a kind, caring friend. He will be missed. Sharon and I are praying for Landra and their family,” Sen. Lee said in a statement.