WASHINGTON — Former Illinois Rep. Paul Findley, the Republican congressman who represented his Springfield-based district for 22 years, died Friday at the age of 98.

Findley was commemorated by his successor in the House, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, as an “exceptional public servant” and friend.

“Paul Findley will be remembered as a true expert in Ag policy, a small-town newspaper publisher with a passion for foreign policy, and an elected official who showed exceptional courage in tackling the age old controversies in the Middle East,” Durbin said in a statement.

First elected in 1960, Findley was known as a champion of U.S. agriculture. Durbin unseated him by 1,410 votes in 1982.

He drew attention for his criticism of American policy on Palestine, which he believes may have cost him his seat, as he wrote in 2007.

In 2003, Findley wrote “They Dare to Speak Out,” a book about the influence of the pro-Israel lobby.

Findley was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, and attended Illinois College. He served as a Navy officer in World War II. He once served as an editor of Pike Press Inc. in Pittsfield, Illinois.

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