Congressman, Doctor, Writer Bill Roy, Sr. Dies at 88

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TOPEKA (WIBW) — Former Kansas Congressman Bill Roy, Sr, who took his political and medical passions to the floor of the U.S. House, to the floors of St. Francis and to the readers of the Topeka Capitol-Journal, died on Memorial Day at the age of 88.

The Kansas Democratic Party released a statement, saying it was deeply saddened by his passing.

"Dr. Roy proudly served our nation and our state, first as a member of the United States Air Force and then as a Democratic member of Congress. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Roy family and the countless people whose lives Bill touched."

Gov. Sam Brownback also issued a statement on Roy's death.

"I am saddened by the passing of Bill Roy. He served the people of Kansas proudly and well. He was always generous with his time and knowledge and cared deeply for this state. My prayers and sympathy are with his son, family and friends."

Bill Roy, Sr. was born February 23, 1926 in Bloomington, Illinois. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1946, and an M.D. from Northwestern University Medical School in 1950. In a biography provided for awards from Washburn Law School, the college says following his WU law school graduation in 1970, Roy, who was opposed to the Vietnam War and concerned about civil rights and establishing universal health care, changed parties and challenged a three-term incumbent in the historically Republican Second Congressional District of Kansas. Dr. Roy won in the fall and was reelected in 1972.

In 1974, he received more than 49% of the votes running against fellow Washburn Law alumnus Bob Dole, '52, for the United States Senate. From 1975 to 1978, Roy served as a medical educator at Topeka's St. Francis Health Center. He practiced medicine for the next ten years until his retirement.

Dr. Roy wrote and passed legislation which increased the number of nurses and primary care physicians, promoted emergency care and health planning, and established the National Cancer Institute. In 1973, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences. In 1976, he gave the Shattuck Lecture of the Massachusetts Medical Society, later published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

He received two honorary doctorates, has served on the Washburn Board of Regents, Kansas Board of Regents, and the Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, the military's medical school. As honorary visiting professor, he enjoys conferring with political science students.

Roy's son, Bill Roy Jr., told The Topeka Capital-Journal that his father had surgery at the Mayo Clinic but died early Monday.