Former Rep. Jim Oberstar, 79, who represented northeastern Minnesota for 36 years and brought millions of dollars to the state as chair of the House Transportation Committee, died Saturday at his home in Potomac, Md. A statement released by his family said Mr. Oberstar died in his sleep.

Mr. Oberstar, a Democrat, was elected to Congress in 1974 and served 18 terms to become the state's longest-serving member. He became chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in 2006. He was a champion of transportation safety and infrastructure improvements and supported the concept of intermodality - connecting highways, subways, city buses, intercity rail, and bike paths.

He also brought jobs to his district, noting that the economic stimulus brought $212 million to St. Louis County and increased demand for iron ore from the Iron Range's taconite mines.

In 2010, he narrowly lost to Chip Cravaack as part of a Republican takeover of the House. After that defeat, Mr. Oberstar said: "I go with peace of mind and heart, but with sadness. . . . I loved the opportunity to serve the people of this district." - AP