A longtime Iron Range lawmaker has passed away. A statement from Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's Office confirmed the passing of Joe Begich.

Begich served as Eveleth mayor from 1965 to 1974 before serving as a state representative for 17 years.

"Today, with the passing of Joe Begich, Minnesota lost a longtime advocate and defender of the Iron Range, Labor, seniors and Minnesota's working class families. Joe was dedicated to improving the lives of others and devoted many years to public service, first serving in the U.S. Army Infantry in Korea, then as Mayor of Eveleth and later as a Minnesota State Representative from 1975 to 1992.

"I am proud to have had the opportunity to call Joe as a friend. I will always remember Joe as a champion for the Range and preserving Minnesota's tradition of mining, education and health care. My thoughts are with his family, his friends, and the people of the Range whom he spent so much of his life fighting on behalf," Sen. Klobuchar said in an emailed statement.

A statement from St. Louis County Commissioner Keith Nelson on behalf of the county board said they would always appreciate the work Begich did to better the lives of residents.

"St. Louis County has lost a friend with the passing of Joe Begich. While we mourn his death, we celebrate his life and draw inspiration from his legacy of public service as a legislator, mayor and Army veteran. He was a champion for his beloved Iron Range and for our citizens, in particular miners,” Nelson said.

In 2017, Highway 101 near Eveleth was renamed after Begich.