YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – Former U.S. Rep. William D. Ford, a Democrat who spent three decades on Capitol Hill and dedicated himself to expanding educational opportunities for children, has died. He was 77.

Ford died early Saturday at his home of complications from a stroke he suffered about six weeks ago, said Adam Benson, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Dearborn.

A House member from 1965 to 1995, Ford served as Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor and as Chairman of the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service.

“He believed that the government has an obligation to give its citizens a chance at success,” Dingell’s office said in a statement. “He worked every day of his life to be the champion of the working poor and the middle class.”

He authored the Middle Income Student Assistance Act and the Plant Closing Act and orchestrated the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act. In 1994 The Federal Direct Student Loan Program was named for him.

Ford was the oldest child of immigrant Scottish parents and the first member of his family to attend college. Following his service in the U.S. Navy, he attended the University of Denver of the GI Bill.

He was a delegate to the Michigan Constitutional Convention and a member of the Michigan Senate prior to representing Michigan’s 15th and 13th Congressional Districts.

Ford is survived by three children, three grandchildren, a sister and a brother.

AP-ES-08-14-04 1506EDT

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