Kansas Rep. Russell Jennings has died, colleagues issue condolences

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas state Rep. Russ Jennings has died. House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. on Wednesday announced that 66-year-old Jennings, a Lakin Republican serving District 122, died from cancer on Wednesday morning.

Ryckman said he learned of the death from Jennings’ family. Jennings was elected to the Legislature in 2012. He served as chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee for the past three legislative sessions.

Before his election, Jennings served as commissioner of juvenile justice for the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority from 2007 to 2010. In previous years he was also a deputy sheriff and a magistrate judge,

Colleagues of Kansas Representative Russell Jennings started issuing statements and condolences for Russell Wednesday afternoon.

State Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes issued the following statement:

“The state of Kansas has lost one of our finest with the passing of Representative Russ Jennings. He was a kind, compassionate man who fought hard for commonsense policies to improve the lives of Kansas kids. As a legislator who shared that goal, I could always rely on Russ to share his deep knowledge and challenge me and my colleagues to craft strong public policy. I will never forget his eagerness to join the Early Learning Caucus because of the positive impact it could have on kids like his grandchildren. I am praying for them and all of his family as they mourn this heartbreaking loss.”

Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes

Rep. Stephen Owens acknowledged he didn’t always agree with Jennings but called him a “great man who dedicated much of his life to service.”

Very sad to announce the passing of my colleague Chairman Russ Jennings. I served beside him as his Vice-Chair in Corrections / Juvenile Justice and on Judiciary committee.

A lot of people don’t realize the relationships that are built in Topeka. Legislators work side by side for 4-5 months every year, every day and nearly, every hour. We develop friendships with our colleagues that will last long after our time in Topeka is done. It is well known that Russ and I didn’t agree on a number of issues, but Russ was a great man who dedicated much of his life in service of his constituents. His family will be in my prayers. Rest in Peace my friend.

Rep. Stephen Owens, Kansas 74th House District

Sen. Jerry Moran issued the following statement:

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Rep. Russ Jennings – my friend for many years and a true advocate for southwest Kansas – following his battle with cancer. Russ was a principled leader who cared deeply for his community and looked for ways to serve Lakin and the state of Kansas at every turn. In the statehouse, he was known for his depth of knowledge and the care and compassion he showed towards everyone. Robba and I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Judy, and their children and grandchildren.

Sen. Jerry Moran

In July, Jennings thanked friends and family on Facebook for an outpouring of support but did not mention what he was fighting medically.

Dozens of comments of support and love were shared under the post.

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