TOPEKA — Southeast Kansas Rep. Ed Bideau died at his home a day after the Legislature ended a special session, the House speaker's office said Friday, declining to give a cause of death.
Colleagues, shocked by the news, recalled the 62-year-old Republican's talent and good nature in office. He died Thursday in Chanute where he was an attorney in private practice, said Rachel Witten, spokeswoman for Houser Speaker Ray Merrick. She declined to say how he died, citing his family's privacy.
He and other legislators completed work Wednesday on making changes to the state's "Hard 50" prison sentence law, wrapping up a two-day special session.
"Ed was a kind, humble, intelligent man. He loved his family dearly and was committed to serving his friends and neighbors in the 9th District," Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, said in a statement. "He will be greatly missed by all his friends and colleagues in the Legislature."
Gov. Sam Brownback offered his condolences and ordered flags to be lowered from sunrise to sunset the day of Bideau's funeral. Arrangements are pending.
Bideau, who was also a farmer and rancher, was elected to the House in 2012. He previously served in the House from 1985 to 1988 before leaving office to establish his law practice.
Bideau established himself as an emerging leader when returning to the Statehouse, said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lance Kinzer. Bideau served on the judiciary committee and a select panel that drafted the changes to the prison sentence law.
"Word of his passing has hit me harder than anticipated," said Kinzer, an Olathe Republican. "He was back just a brief time but he had earned the respect of his colleagues. He was someone who was going to have a positive impact on the House for years to come."
Kinzer said he and Bideau paused to have a conversation on the House floor before parting ways after legislators ended their session Wednesday.
"I'm glad that I got to shake his hand and have some kind words with him before his passing," Kinzer said.
Bideau graduated from Chanute High School and Neosho County Community College, according to his official campaign website. He earned business and law degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. He was elected county attorney in Neosho County in 1976.
Witten said Bideau is survived by his wife, Margaret, three children and several grandchildren.