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Former Congressman Jim Kolbe honored on the House floor

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Former Congressman Jim Kolbe was honored Tuesday in Washington, D.C. 

Congressman Juan Ciscomani paid tribute to the man he calls his mentor on the House floor. "I rise today to honor James Thomas Kolbe. An Arizonan, a decorated Navy veteran, a patriot who faithfully served my state and our country for most of his life."

Kobe served southern Arizona for 22 years, in a district now held by Ciscomani. "He knew how to get things done in Washington, but never forgot who sent him here and why," Ciscomani said.

Toni Hellon was Kolbe's campaign manager in three races. She said he made a point of flying home to Tucson on the weekends. "He would fly in, his car would be waiting, his schedule would be laid out on the seat of that vehicle. He would head right out to events. He had unlimited energy," Hellon said.

Kolbe was born in Illinois, but grew up in Patagonia.  Ciscomani said, "He was a tireless advocate for Arizona and he brought that unique Arizona perspective to public policy debates for which this body is so well known."

Kolbe's friends and colleagues say he was liked by everyone, Democrats and Republicans. Lifelong friend Richard Machold said, "He was willing to work with across the aisle and do what he had to do. He was very independent. He was one of the true Republicans."

Kolbe died December third. He was 80 years old. Ciscomani wrapped up his tribute with a simple thank you. "Jim, my friend, on behalf of the men and women of our little corner of Arizona. thank you," 

A public memorial will be held January 28th at the Catalina United Methodist Church in Tucson. It's a 3 p.m.

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