Former Va. Gov. Baliles dies at 79

Former Va. Gov. Baliles dies at 79
Gerald L. Baliles, who was also the chairman of ACCESS (Aviation Coalition for Competition and Expanded Services Between the United States and Japan), answers reporters' questions during a press conference in Tokyo on June 3, 1997. (Source: AP/Tsugufumi Matsumoto/AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles has died after battling cancer.

Baliles, who served as governor from 1986 to 1990, was 79 years old.

“As the 65th Governor of Virginia, he understood and valued the role government can play in improving citizens’ lives. He transformed Virginia’s transportation infrastructure, signed Virginia into the Chesapeake Bay agreement under which we still operate today, and focused on expanding access to higher education, among many other accomplishments,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “I have directed that Virginia state flags be flown at half-staff in Governor Baliles’ honor for the next 30 days.”

Baliles had entered a cancer treatment program last month.

A statement from his family said the former Democratic governor has been fighting a type of kidney cancer called renal cell carcinoma for several years.

Mark Warner, a former Virginia governor and current U.S. senator, says Baliles “was a steady hand steering the Commonwealth.”

“He was also a good friend,” Warner said. “I join all Virginians in celebrating his service to the Commonwealth. We will miss him.”

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