New Jersey Senator Jim Whelan has died, Senate President Steve Sweeney announced on Tuesday night.

Whelan was born in Philadelphia on November 8, 1948. He later attended Temple University where he earned a B.A. in English Education.

Whelan, a longtime teacher in Atlantic City, served as a two term mayor in the 80’s. In 2006, he was elected to the state assembly and became a senator two years later.

Whelan announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election, and underwent kidney surgery last month in Philadelphia.

Here is Senate president Steve Sweeney's statement concerning Whelan's death...

“I am shocked and deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Senator Jim Whelan. Jim was a true friend, a confidant and champion for the people of South Jersey and the entire state. He gave so much of his life to public service, serving as a teacher, a councilman, as mayor, and for more than a decade in the Legislature fighting for policies to help improve the lives of the residents of the state. He was a man of integrity and honor, and he was a friend to all of us.

“Jim was rarely one to raise his voice, but was a dogged advocate for Atlantic City, a city he loved dearly, and was determined to see it thrive. He was the author of many of the initiatives that have helped to revitalize Atlantic City and will be remembered for that work for generations to come.  He will be missed dearly by all of us who knew him, but his loss will also be felt by the entire state. I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Kathy, their son Richard, and his entire family during this incredibly difficult time.”

Source: InsiderNJ.com