Rep. Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin) died Thursday morning at the University Medical Center Brackenridge after suffering a heart attack. He was at a convenient store on Riverside Drive when he complained of chest pain and his implanted defibrillator started firing. When EMS arrived, Kuempel was awake and alert, but lost consciousness on the transport to the hospital. He never regained consciousness.
Kuempel was one of the 11 Republicans that joined Democrats in replacing Tom Craddick with Texas House Speaker Joe Straus last year.
"Edmund Kuempel is one of the great Texans of all time," said Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R-TX) "But, speaking politically, he was the originally compassionate conservative and he's been one of the most beloved members of the Texas House.
Governor Rick Perry also released this statement about the passing of Edmund Kuempel:
"In one moment, our state lost a pillar of the Legislature, a family lost a loving husband and father, and I lost a great friend. Edmund Kuempel was truly one of a kind," said Texas Gov. Rick Perry. "He was already making a name for himself in the House when I got there, so I've never known an Austin without him. His persistent cheerfulness overlaid a passion for Texas and a concern for those he represented unlike any I've ever seen. Anita and I are praying for his wife, Birdie, their children and grandchildren as they go through this tough time. Texas is a better place for his having been here."
Flags at the State Capitol are flying at half-staff in honor of Rep. Edmund Kuempel. No funeral arrangements have been released yet.