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Oregon state Rep. Gary Leif of Roseburg has died

State Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, sits on the House floor at the Capitol in Salem, Ore., Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
State Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, sits on the House floor at the Capitol in Salem, Ore., Tuesday, April 2, 2019.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners announced the unexpected death Thursday of Oregon State Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg.

Leif’s cause of death wasn’t immediately known. The Roseburg News-Review, citing a source close to the lawmaker, reported Leif had cancer.

The commissioners and their families extended their condolences to Leif’s family, friends and colleagues for his service to the county and House District 2, which he has represented since 2018. The district comprises sections of Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties.

Commissioner Tom Kress said in the news release that Leif had supported him in his capacity as a county commissioner and also served as a fellow United Community Action Network, or UCAN, board member.

“He truly loved Douglas County and dedicated his life to helping and serving others. This is a tremendous loss for our County,” Kress wrote.

Leif previously served a year and four months as a Douglas County commissioner, winning election in 2016 before being appointed to the House seat previously held by Dallas Heard, who was appointed to the Senate in early 2018.

“Gary showed up for his first day as County Commissioner ready to hit the ground running,” said Commissioner Chris Boice. “His enthusiasm about serving this county was infectious, and he worked hard during his time as a County Commissioner.”

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, wrote on Twitter Thursday morning that Leif was a “champion for his district and a lovely man.”

“My prayers are with his family and community,” Kotek wrote.

Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, also expressed his grief after learning about Leif’s death. Post described Leif as one of the “sweetest and kindest” people he’s ever known.

“We will miss him greatly and pray for his family,” Post said on Twitter.

Commissioners from Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties will be responsible for tapping Leif’s replacement from a list of nominees to be compiled by the Oregon Republican Party.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Sam Stites