Robert Gingrich, father of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, died Wednesday, about six weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer and just hours before his son was renominated speaker. The retired Army officer was 71.
Newt Gingrich said in his acceptance speech, "This is a bittersweet day for me. My father died this morning. It's made more complex because this is also my mother's birthday."
An adopted son, Gingrich said he recently visited his father in the Harrisburg, Pa., hospital where he died. The elder Gingrich believed "duty, honor, country were more than words, they were a way of life," his son said.
Robert Gingrich enlisted in the Army in 1945, served in the Vietnam and Korean wars, rose to lieutenant colonel and received numerous military awards.
Daughter Candace Gingrich said her father died of complications of a cancerous tumor that was discovered just after his 50th wedding anniversary Oct. 5.
After leaving the military, Gingrich worked as a toll collector on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Besides Candace Gingrich and the speaker, Gingrich is survived by his wife, Kathleen "Kit," and two other daughters, Susan and Roberta Brown.
Gingrich will be buried at the national cemetery at the Ft. Indiantown Gap military post near Harrisburg.