Kansas Lawmaker Russ Jennings Dies From Cancer At 66

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Rep. Russ Jennings, 66, died of cancer Wednesday morning, House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. announced.

“Over the past few months, he has fought hard through treatments and embraced every minute with his family,” Ryckman said in an email to Republican legislators that was shared with The Associated Press. “Every time we talked after a treatment, he was motivated and inspired to fight this thing, to enjoy life and to finish out his term. But, God had other plans.”

Ryckman said he learned of the death from Jennings’ family.

Jennings was elected to the Kansas Legislature in 2012. He served as chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee for the past three legislative sessions.

Before his election, Jennings served as commissioner of juvenile justice for the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority from 2007 to 2010. Earlier, he was director of the Southwest Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Garden City for 13 years.

Between 1977 and 1994, Jennings worked as a deputy with the Kearny County Sheriff’s Office, and then as a district magistrate judge with the Kearny County District Court.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Jennings announced his cancer diagnosis in July and said he wouldn’t run for reelection in 2022.