Staunch conservative Illinois congressman Phil Crane dies at 84
Rep. Phil Crane (US House)

(Reuters) - Phil Crane, 84, who served 35 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing parts of the Chicago area, has died, his family said in an obituary it released on Sunday.

Crane died peacefully at the home of his daughter, Rebekah, in Jefferson, Maryland on Saturday, according to the obituary. Crane’s former chief of staff, Kirt Johnson, said he died of lung cancer.

A Chicago native and a Republican, Crane entered the House in 1969, winning a special election. He had been headmaster at Westminster Academy in Chicago prior to his election. Crane served until his defeat by Democrat Melissa Bean in 2004.

Crane gained attention in 1964 as a strong speaker on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. He wrote a book “The Democrat's dilemma” in 1964 and was a top national figure "in the fledgling conservative movement,” his obituary said.

Crane founded several conservative organizations and was a leader in creating the Heritage Foundation, a well-known conservative think tank in Washington, his obituary said.

Crane supported Ronald Reagan in his bid to defeat President Gerald Ford in the 1976 Republican primaries and he ran for president himself in 1980 until Reagan decided to run, according to the obituary.

Services for Crane, preceded in death by his wife, Arlene, are expected to be on Thursday at the Loudoun Funeral Chapels in Leesburg, Virginia.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Eric Walsh)