FILE - NH House chamber 1-4-2017

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is seen during session Jan. 4, 2017, in Concord.

(The Center Square) – New Hampshire is mourning the loss of five-term Democratic state lawmaker and former House Majority Leader Douglas Ley, who passed away on Thursday after losing a battle with cancer.

Ley, 62 of Jaffrey, was a longtime advocate for public education and workers rights. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2012 and served as House majority leader from 2019 to 2020, when Democrats were in the majority.

His oldest son Ethan, who had chronicled his father's battle with cancer in posts on the website CaringBridge, said Ley "spent his last day here at home in a peaceful state surrounded by his family." Ley had been hospitalized for several weeks undergoing chemotherapy but returned home last week when his diagnosis changed, his son said.

House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, described Ley as "a friend, a caring husband and father, passionate legislator, and a well-respected member of the House.

"He always put the best interests of New Hampshire first, and fought hard for his constituents to ensure their voices were heard in Concord," Packard said in a statement. "His absence will be felt by many whose lives he touched."

Former House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, D-Penacook, remembered Ley as a "respected colleague who gifted us with his knowledge, humor, quick wit, and noble values every day."

"Doug’s enormous, positive impact will carry forward from the great work he did and from the people who were fortunate to know him, including the students he taught and the workers he fought for," Dan Feltes, a former New Hampshire Senate majority leader, said in a statement. "He really made a difference in service to so many."

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley described Ley as "a true public servant and champion for New Hampshire’s working families."

"He will also be remembered for his kindness, sense of humor, leadership and, most importantly, his ability to bring people together," Buckley said.

Members of the state's congressional delegation also lamented Ley's passing.

"Doug was a dedicated public servant, and his tireless work on behalf of our state will not be forgotten," Rep. Anne Kuster, D-New Hampshire, said in a statement. "I send my thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones."

Ley has been a professor of history at Franklin Pierce University since 1991. He was also president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers who pushed for higher wages for teachers and better conditions in public schools.

Randi Weingarten, the AFT's president, praised Ley as "a tireless fighter for students, educators, workers and their families, using his unique position in the worlds of New Hampshire labor, politics and academia to speak truth to power."

“Doug’s mission in life was to ensure that all New Hampshire citizens had access to a good life with excellent public schools and a voice on the job through union rights," she said in a statement. “New Hampshire has lost a powerful advocate for working families, decency and fairness."