Funeral services were held today for U.S. Rep. Bill Young, who died last week after 43 years in Congress.
Several hundred people gathered at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks in Largo to honor Young. He died Friday at 82.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England and Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, were among those who eulogized Young.
The House of Representatives was closed for today to accommodate their members who wanted to attend. One was Speaker Boehner.
"Your loss is our loss. It's as simple as that," Boehner said. "Here was a man who loved - in this order - God, his family, his country - and the House Appropriations Committee. Yes, it was greedy of us to gripe when Bill gave us word that he wasn't going to run again, but we did it anyway. After all, we owed the man everything."
Boehner alluded to Young's power of the purse in Washington, D.C. Young was famous for bringing home the bacon to his home district, and was rewarded with several buildings throughout the Tampa Bay area named in his honor. Buildings at the University of South Florida’s Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses bear his name. So does a reservoir and a National Institutes of Health research facility.
When the Sunshine Skyway bridge collapsed in 1980, Young helped shepherd money for a replacement bridge through Congress.
But the Tampa Bay region may have benefited most from Young slot on the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee.
Young secured the money to build a new U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base and helped rejuvenate a former defense contracting plant in Pinellas County.
One of his benefactors was Bay Pines VA Medical Center, which he helped expand several decades ago. A bill to rename the center after Young sailed through the House of Representatives Tuesday night. It will soon be taken up in the Senate, in a bill co-sponsored by both of Florida's Senators, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson.
“Bill Young represented the kind of person that would reach out and respect the other fellow and then work out the differences in a bipartisan way,” Nelson, a Democrat, said before the funeral. “What a contrast to what we're seeing today, where it's so ideologically driven and so partisan.”
Young leaves behind his wife Beverly, and three children from his first wife.