Frank Lautenberg was born in Paterson, N.J., and now resides in Cliffside Park. He served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II and through the G.I. Bill earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1949 from Columbia University.
He started Automatic Data Processing, a payroll services company, in 1952 and was its chief executive officer and chairman of the board until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1982.
Lautenberg retired from the Senate in 2000, but returned in 2002 after then-Sen. Robert Torricelli dropped his bid for a second term in the wake of an ethics investigation.
Lautenberg in 2010 underwent chemotherapy for lymphoma in his stomach.
He remarried in 2004 and has four children from his previous marriage.
Frank Lautenberg is one of the U.S. Senate's more liberal members — and its oldest. He has continued to be a major player in airport security and some state issues in New Jersey, even as his health has become a growing concern.
While Democratic supporters often treat him gingerly, Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has feuded with Lautenberg. In 2012, Christie called the senator a "partisan hack," an "embarrassment" and saying it was time for him to retire.
The two have battled over Christie's decision in 2010 to cancel a project to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River to increase capacity for trains traveling between New Jersey and New York City.
In 2012, Lautenberg was perhaps the most prominent New Jersey politician to oppose plan backed by Christie to reconfigure the state's higher education system. Lautenberg tried to slow the plan by asking for a federal review of the part that would have merged Rutgers University's Camden campus with Rowan University. Lawmakers later approved changes, calling for the two universities to work together in health-sciences but not to merge entirely.
In November 2008, Lautenberg became the first senator from New Jersey ever to win a fifth term. He was 84 at the time.
Lautenberg has remained vocal in the Senate since his latest election, pushing for changes to airport security practices after a breach closed down the Newark Liberty International Airport in January 2010. He's also been a critic of electronic cigarettes, which are often marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking.
But some of the news he's made in recent years has had nothing to do with policy or politics.
It was revealed in 2009 that his family's foundation had lost more than $7 million in the alleged $50 billion investment scam run by financier Bernard Madoff.
He began treatments in March 2010 for lymphoma found in his stomach. He continued working between treatments and said in June 2010 that he was declared cancer-free.
Lautenberg built one of the world's largest payroll services companies, Automatic Data Processing, before he was elected to the Senate. He also served on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
He retired from the Senate in 2000, but then returned in 2002 after then-Sen. Robert Torricelli dropped his re-election bid. Lautenberg won re-election six years later — this time not giving any public thought to retiring.
Lautenberg is probably most identified nationally as the senator who wrote the law to ban smoking on domestic airline flights. He also played a key role in the passage of a 1984 law that used federal highway funds as leverage to pressure all states to adopt a minimum drinking age of 21.
Lautenberg served on the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism, formed after the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, and he sponsored a 1996 law banning gun ownership by those convicted of domestic violence.
"People don't give a darn about my age, they know I'm vigorous, they know I've got plenty of energy," he said after winning a lopsided Democratic primary victory in June 2008. "I enjoy being of service to the people of our country and our state. I'm invigorated by the work."
Committee Assignments: Appropriations; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Environment and Public Works
American Conservative Union Rating: 10
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 90
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 56% (2008), 54% (2002).
(Last updated by Geoff Mulvihill on July 10, 2012.)