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WASHINGTON-Credit unions started the year on a sad note as news came of the death of Congressman Robert Matsui (D-Calif.) on Jan. 1, 2005. Matsui had been fighting a rare stem cell disorder called Myelodysplastic Disorder in recent months. He entered Bethesda Naval Hospital Dec. 24 with pneumonia, a complication of his illness. He was 63. CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn noted that Matsui was an early co-sponsor to H.R. 1151 and more recently signed on in support of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act. He had also been a strong supporter of credit unions’ tax exemption. Matsui was first elected to Congress in 1978 and won his most recent election by more than 71% for his 14th term. At his death, he was the third ranking Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the Ranking Member on the Social Security Subcommittee, and has served the last two years as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica was elected to Congress the same year as Matsui. “Bob Matsui and I were classmates, having both been first elected to the Congress in 1978,” Mica recalled. “In those years, and since, I came to know him well. Bob was an outstanding legislator, a solid leader and a strong backer of the credit union movement. On top of that, he was a terrific person, always sharing his joy of life. His integrity, vision and support will be sorely missed – but is much appreciated by those of us who had the honor of serving with him, or dealing with him, as a member of Congress and as a man.” “Credit unions have lost a great friend,” California Credit Union League President and CEO David L. Chatfield said. “Robert Matsui was a dedicated public servant in the true sense of the word, and a man of great character. We will miss his presence in our nation’s capital, and working with him there and in his Sacramento district. Our condolences go to Congressman Matsui’s wife, Doris, and their family.” Matsui addressed a delegation of more than 60 credit union leaders from California and Nevada at Credit Union House in July. Under California law, the governor must call for a special election to fill Matsui’s seat within two weeks and the election must be held between 112 days and 119 days after the seat is declared vacant. Treasury Secretary John Snow made this statement on his passing, “This weekend, America lost a great leader and a great intellect, and the people of California lost a great friend. I knew and worked with Congressman Matsui for three decades. I deeply admired and appreciated his knowledge, his compassion, and his ability to reach across the aisle to achieve progress for his country. He will be remembered fondly, and with tremendous respect, for all that he gave as both a public servant and as an individual. I especially appreciated the opportunity to work closely with him over the last two years and am grateful for all of the courtesies he extended to me.” Matsui was born in Sacramento in 1941 and a few months later he and his family were interned in a camp for Japanese-Americans until the end of World War II. He earned a degree in political science from University of California Berkeley, and a law degree from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. He opened a private law practice in 1967 and was elected to the Sacramento City Council in 1971. The congressman is survived by his wife, Doris; son, Brian; and granddaughter, Anna. The Matsui family and friends are establishing a charitable fund in memory of the Congressman and ask that all gifts be sent to The Matsui Foundation for Public Service, P.O. Box 1347, Sacramento, CA 95812. [email protected]

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