July 13, 2014 / 8:11 PM / 4 years ago

Former U.S. congressman Ken Gray of Illinois dies at 89

(Reuters) - Former U.S. Representative Ken Gray of Illinois, once known as the “Prince of Pork” for his ability to win federal support for his district, has died at age 89.

Gray, a Democrat, died on Saturday at a hospital in Herrin, Illinois, according to the Parker-Reedy Funeral Home in West Frankfort.

Born on Nov. 14, 1924, in West Frankfort, Gray served with the army and air force in North Africa, Italy, southern France and central Europe during World War Two, according to his congressional biography.

He served in Congress from Jan. 3, 1955, until his resignation on Dec. 31, 1974, and then again from Jan. 3, 1985 to Jan. 3 1989.

In 24 years in Congress he delivered $7 billion for regional projects including interstate highways and the creation of a lake to provide drinking water, The Southern Illinoisan newspaper said.

In a 2008 interview with the newspaper, Gray, citing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the lake had saved more than $100 million worth of property downstream during flooding years earlier.

“If that is pork, pass me the plate, because I’ll take another heaping serving,” he said.

Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Bernard Orr

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