Officials: Jim Whelan, New Jersey State Senator & fmr. Atlantic City mayor, passes away

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017
State Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) casts a vote in the Senate chamber Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Trenton, N.J.

ATLANTIC CITY (WPVI) -- Jim Whelan, a longtime mayor of Atlantic City and Democratic state senator, has passed away at the age of 68, according to New Jersey officials.

In a statement Tuesday night. Senate President Steve Sweeney said, "I am shocked and deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Senator Jim Whelan. Jim was a true friend, a confidant and champion for the people of South Jersey and the entire state. He gave so much of his life to public service, serving as a teacher, a councilman, as mayor, and for more than a decade in the Legislature fighting for policies to help improve the lives of the residents of the state. He was a man of integrity and honor, and he was a friend to all of us."

Whelan recently underwent cancer surgery on a kidney last month at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

On his Facebook page on July 31, Whelan posted about being readmitted to the hospital for complications from blood thinners.

"Jim was rarely one to raise his voice, but was a dogged advocate for Atlantic City, a city he loved dearly, and was determined to see it thrive. He was the author of many of the initiatives that have helped to revitalize Atlantic City and will be remembered for that work for generations to come. He will be missed dearly by all of us who knew him, but his loss will also be felt by the entire state," Sweeney said. "I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Kathy, their son Richard, and his entire family during this incredibly difficult time."

In a statement, Governor Chris Christie said, "The sudden and unexpected passing of Senator Jim Whelan is an enormous loss to the people of Atlantic City, his district and all of the State of New Jersey. During my nearly eight years in Trenton, I came to know Jim as a forthright and honest leader who's word was his bond. While we did not always agree on policy, he was always willing to listen and reason together. The current comeback of Atlantic City is due in no small part to the efforts and passion of Jim Whelan. Mary Pat and I extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the entire Whelan family. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him."

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said, "My prayers go out to Kathy and Jim's family. I will always appreciate Jim's guidance when I first became Mayor and showing me the ropes my first few months. He took me under his wing like a big brother. Jim dedicated his whole life to public service to Atlantic City, whether he was serving as a lifeguard, a coach and teacher, Councilman, Mayor, or State Senator. I will keep him and his family in my prayers. May he rest in peace."

Whelan graduated from Temple University. He taught in Philadelphia and coached swimming at Temple from 1974-77.


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