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Former Congressman Joseph Early Sr. Dies

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Joseph Early, Sr. (1992 file image)

Joseph Early, Sr. (1992 file image)

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BOSTON (AP) — Joseph Early Sr., a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts who lost his seat after a banking scandal, died Friday. He was 79.

Early, who served in the U.S. House from 1975 to 1993, died at his home in Worcester.

A spokesman for Early’s son, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., confirmed the death.

Early’s political career started in 1962 with a one-vote victory in a state legislative race. He then served six terms as a state representative from 1963 to 1974.

Before that, the Worcester native served in the Navy for two years and worked as a high school teacher.

As a student at College of the Holy Cross, Early captained the basketball team to the NIT championship in 1955.

While in Congress, Early helped make the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester one of the top recipients of National Institutes of Health grants.

Following a House banking scandal, Early lost his seat in the U.S. House in 1992 to Shrewsbury Republican Peter Blute. But Early was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement that Early’s dedication to public service and central Massachusetts residents paved the way for many public servants who came after him.

“His unwavering commitment to creating a better Commonwealth will be deeply missed by his former colleagues and constituents,” Patrick said.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray called Early a tenacious advocate who helped establish UMass Medical School in Worcester and secure federal money for health and science research in Massachusetts.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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