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WASHINGTON — Tom Foley, the courtly former speaker of the U.S. House who lost his seat when Republicans seized control of Congress in 1994, has died of complications from a stroke. He was 84.

His wife, Heather, said the former speaker had suffered the stroke last December and was hospitalized in May with pneumonia. He returned home after a week and had been on hospice care there ever since, she said.

"Tom’s straightforward approach helped him find common ground with members of both parties, eventually leading to his election as the 57th Speaker of the House," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Foley also served as U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years in the Clinton administration.

He served 30 years in the U.S. House, including more than five years as speaker.

Arkansas Online contributed to this story.

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