Raleigh, N.C. — Cass Ballenger, who represented the 10th Congressional District in western North Carolina for 20 years, died Wednesday.
Before heading to Capitol Hill in 1986, the Hickory native served 10 years in the state Senate and one two-year term in the state House. He also was a Catawba County commissioner.
"In his personal and professional life, Congressman Ballenger placed others before himself," Congressman Patrick McHenry, who was elected in the 10th District upon Ballenger's retirement in 2005, said in a statement. "Anyone who spent any time with him knew that he was affable, kind, and brutally honest. He would tell you exactly what he was thinking and generally with a hilarious delivery. He was one of the few people who could hold someone accountable in the most blistering way, make him laugh, and help him out of a tight spot all in one conversation."
"As a lawmaker, he was knowledgeable and careful, insisting on understanding all angles of an issue before making a plan, as evidenced in his transformation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration," U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said in a statement.