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State and federal officials mourn death of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow

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Posted at 10:20 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 19:17:32-05

Politicians from across the state and country are mourning the death of Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow.

The incoming Republican member of the U.S. House, died Tuesday night from complications related to COVID-19 only days before he would have been sworn into office.

He was 41 years old.

Letlow was transferred to the ICU on Tuesday with COVID-19 after he was hospitalized on the 19th in Monroe. He is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two children.

Letlow was recently elected to represent Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.

Letlow spokesman Andrew Bautsch confirmed the congressman-elect’s death at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport Tuesday evening with a statement posted the Congressman-Elect's Facebook page:
"Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, 41, passed away this evening at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport due to complications from COVID-19.

Letlow was admitted into a Monroe hospital on December 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus and was transferred to Ochsner-LSU Health on Tuesday, December 22, and placed in intensive care. Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, Phd., and two young children.

The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time. A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time."

According to the Associated Press, Dr. G.E. Ghali, of LSU Health Shreveport, told The Advocate that Letlow didn’t have any underlying health conditions that would have placed him at greater risk to COVID-19.

Ghali told the Monroe News Star that Letlow died from a heart attack following a procedure related to the infection.

The Louisiana Delegation, consisting of Senators Bill Cassidy, John Kennedy, Congressmen Cedric Richmond, Ralph Abraham, Garret Graves, Clay Higgins, Mike Johnson, and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, released the following statement on Letlow's passing:

"We are devastated to hear of Luke Letlow's passing. Luke had such a positive spirit, and a tremendously bright future ahead of him. He was looking forward to serving the people of Louisiana in Congress, and we were excited to welcome him to our delegation where he was ready to make an even greater impact on our state and our Nation. More than anything, Luke was a loving husband, father, brother, and son, and his family - like so many others who have been affected by this evil disease - needs our prayers. We all join in sending our strongest support to Luke's wife Julia and their young family, and are keeping them in our prayers."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the United States House of Representatives "sadly mourns the passing of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow...our sorrow is compounded by the grief of so many other families who have also suffered lives cut short by this terrible virus."

“Tonight, the United States House of Representatives sadly mourns the passing of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow.
Congressman-elect Letlow was a ninth generation Louisianan who fought passionately for his point of view and dedicated his life to public service.
As the House grieves Congressman-elect Letlow’s passing, our sorrow is compounded by the grief of so many other families who have also suffered lives cut short by this terrible virus.
May it be a comfort to Luke’s wife Julia and their children Jeremiah and Jacqueline that so many mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time.”

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin released a statement Tuesday night, saying, "Our hearts are heavy for the loss of Congressman-Elect Luke Letlow...Our prayers are with his wife Julia, their children, and their families, and as a state, we mourn his passing."

“Luke was a Patriot of the highest order," said Rep. Clay Higgins. "A final deep pain of a heartless year.”

Higgins added that Rep. Ralph Abraham was like a father to Luke.

Gov. John Bel Edwards also offered his condolences on Letlow's passing on Tuesday and said that he has ordered flags to be flown at half staff on the day of Letlow’s funeral.

Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning shared a statement following the news of Letlow's death, saying, "This is a stunning loss that is hard to swallow. Luke was a longtime personal friend and avid supporter of the fire service and law enforcement, even serving as a volunteer firefighter in north Louisiana. The state has truly lost the opportunity to have a world-class ambassador on its side."

On Wednesday, Louisiana Senate President Page Cortez released a statement regarding the Letlow's death:

"Luke Letlow was a bright and emerging leader in the State of Louisiana. He had the heart of a public servant and a true love for his community, state, and country. He was kind and passionate about helping others. But more than anything, he was a wonderful father, husband, and friend. His loss is a terrible tragedy on every level. Please join me as we send our deepest condolences to his wife, young children, and entire family. We pray for peace and comfort in their hearts during this difficult time.”

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., released this statement Wednesday on Letlow's passing:

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow from the rural community of Start, La. I worked with him on agricultural issues when he served under former Governor Bobby Jindal and as chief of staff for Congressman Ralph Abraham whom he was to succeed. I know that as a U.S. Representative for the 5th Congressional District, he would have served the people of Louisiana and our agricultural communities extremely well.
“Please pray for the Letlow family, especially his wife and two young children. Also, please pray for everyone suffering from this virus and the many families who have lost loved ones as a result.”

Statement from House Speaker Clay Schexnayder

“We were heartbroken to hear of the passing of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow. Luke served as Congressman Abraham's Chief of Staff before running and winning the election to represent Louisiana's 5th Congressional District. He died on Tuesday after battling COVID-19, leaving behind his wife Julia and two very young children.

As I sit here this morning thinking about the friend we lost way too soon, I am reminded of how we should take advantage of the time we have with the ones we love. It makes me think about what's important in life. It’s so easy to say; I’ll be right back, hold on I’m busy, or even give daddy a minute. I'll read you a book later.

This pandemic is real and it's taken too many of our loved ones. Too many husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons.

Luke lived his life fully and loved his family and friends with all of his heart. Pray for his family today and hold yours close. We do not know how much time we are given and should take advantage of every second we have.”

Louisiana Farm Bureau President Jim Harper:

“Luke had a bright future ahead of him and was ready to carry the torch for agriculture as my representative in Congress,” Harper said. “Having grown up in Start, La., he never forgot his roots in farming. Luke worked hard for Louisiana’s farmers and ranchers as chief of staff for Congressman Ralph Abraham, often taking calls from Louisiana Farm Bureau volunteer leaders to learn firsthand the issues important to them.”

“Debbie and I pray for his wife, Julia, their two young children, Luke’s parents and all who knew and loved him. This is truly a loss for all of us here in Louisiana.”

Senator Bob Hensgens:

“ Luke was the definition of a public servant, always smiling as he performed the people’s work. Louisiana and our Country has lost one of our best! My prayers go out to his wife and family. “

On Wednesday, Louis Gurvich, Chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana gave the following statement:

Louisiana, and indeed America, have lost a rising political star with the passing of Luke Letlow. That he was born to politics cannot be doubted. Although still a young man of forty-one, he had capably served on the staff of Congressman Bobby Jindal, then on Governor Jindal’s personal staff, and most recently as Ralph Abraham’s chief of staff.By all accounts he had paid his dues and mastered the art of politics along the way.His December 5th election to Congress was seen by all who knew him as a natural progression in the career of a man who actually did enjoy serving his constituents in the very best traditions of American democracy. We all expected that he would go far in politics, and quickly.


If politics can be a brutal game, Luke Letlow had a way of softening its effects on those around him. His kindly personality was an immediate clue to the man’s inherent decency and humanity. While on my way to a late night political meeting with him several years ago, I realized I was not so much preparing to endure another meeting as I was looking forward to seeing Luke again. He was that rare person you looked forward to seeing at all times and under any circumstances.


Above all, Luke must be remembered as the loving husband and father that he was. To his wife, Julia, and his two young children, Jeremiah and Jacqueline, we send our heartfelt condolences.


Luke Letlow will be dearly missed by all who knew him. May we find comfort in his memory as we draw strength from his example.

Louisiana State Senator Gerald Boudreaux, who represents a portion of District 5 in St. Landry Parish, issued a statement on Letlow's passing:

I join with other elected officials and leaders of our state in offering my condolences to Congressman-elect Luke Letlow’s family on his passing. I was able to meet with the Congressman-elect prior to his election and at the time, he committed to working on behalf of everyone in his district. I appreciated his outreach and I was convinced that he would serve the 5th Congressional District with Honor. We join our prayers with all Louisianans for the Letlow family, especially his wife Julia and their two children.

Representative Rhonda Butler, who represents District 38, released the following statement on Letlow's passing:

I was so saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Congressman Luke Letlow. He was always willing and able to help in anyway possible. Luke represented everything good and great about our state, he was a wonderful father, a husband, was well respected throughout his community and his colleagues. Luke would have been an amazing Congressman for us all , He knew the true meaning of being a servant of the people, he will be missed by so many.

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