The Elizabeth Dole Foundation confirmed the news in a statement on Sunday. “It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep,” the foundation said. “At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”
The news arrives several months after Dole revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and said he was starting treatment.
Born in 1923, Dole grew up during the Great Depression, emerging as a star athlete in his home town before playing college basketball at Kansas University. He enlisted in the Army in 1942, serving as a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division. In April 1945, Dole was seriously wounded while in World War Two. Upon returning home from battle, he would earn two Purple Hearts and two awards of the Bronze Star.
From there, Dole would serve for 27 years as a U.S. senator from Kansas, including two stints as the Senate majority leader. He was perhaps best known for his unsuccessful run as the Republican presidential nominee against Bill Clinton in 1996. He also served as President Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976 after Nelson Rockefeller declined to stay on as vice president.
Dole is survived by his wife, former North Carolina GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who is 85.