Former Michigan Congressman, Dan Benishek, Dies at 69

Former Congressman and beloved doctor from the Upper Peninsula died Friday evening, according to a statement from his family.

Known as “Dr. Dan,” Congressman Benishek served three terms as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2016.

Congressmen Benishek was born in Iron River where he worked in his family’s small business, the Iron River Hotel, until he turned 18-year’s-old. He went to the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Medical school before practicing medicine as a general surgeon in the U.P. He also worked part-time at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center.

His family says in 2010, he stunned political observers with an upset victory in the Republican Primary for Michigan’s 1st Congressional district where he won with a 15-vote margin.

In Congress, he successfully enacted legislation to designate 32,500 acres of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as protected wilderness land.

He also championed numerous reforms to VA Hospitals and advocated for enhanced accountability to veterans’ healthcare.

After serving a term-limit, Rep. Benishek retired and spent his final years spending time with family and enjoying Michigan’s natural beauty at his camp in the Ottawa National Forest.

He’s survived by his wife, five children and five grandchildren.

Benishek was 69-years-old.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement after learning of his death:

“Today, Yoopers and Michiganders lost a fighter. Congressmen Benishek represented the spirit of ‘Sisu” during his time in office. In Congress, he championed our men and women in uniform, advocated fiercely for veterans, and worked to protect Sleeping Bear Dunes. As a physician and elected official, Dan put people first. My thoughts are with his wife, children, and grandchildren.”