Former Rep. Howard Coble is in critical condition, breathing with the aid of a ventilator, after complications from a skin cancer surgery, according to a Greensboro, N.C., news report .
A former staffer confirmed that Coble was recently admitted to the hospital for surgery related to skin cancer. From the Fox 8 report :
His nephew said that not long after the procedure, he developed complication with his breathing and was unable to swallow. He was put on a ventilator. Howard Coble was taken off the ventilator a couple of days ago and started experiencing the same problems, so doctors put him back on it Monday. Ray Coble said it looks as if his uncle will probably have to have long-term care indefinitely. Ray Coble said a decision will probably have to be made “within a day or two” whether to give him a tracheotomy and a feeding tube. This will only be done if doctors feel he can tolerate the procedure.Coble, 84, retired from Congress last year after a 30-year career on Capitol Hill. The North Carolina Republican, known among staffers and lawmakers for his love of madras jackets, was well-respected on both sides of the aisle for his work on the Judiciary Committee. In the later years of his congressional career, Coble chaired the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet as well as the Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law panel.
On the Judiciary Committee, Coble’s legislative work focused on strengthening copyright and patent laws. He also co-founded the Creative Rights Caucus, which works to protect intellectual property.
Before coming to Congress, Coble served in the Korean War and remained a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve for 22 years. Born in Greensboro, N.C., in 1931, Coble graduated with a history degree from Guilford College, later earning a law degree from University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill — despite first expressing an interest in becoming a minister.
One of Coble's former senior aides, Kirk Bell, who is now the chief of staff for Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, offered this sentiment: "Howard was a good mentor to many staffers here on Capitol Hill and left an impressive legislative record. More so, he is just a great guy. Our prayers go out to him and his family."
Coble announced in November 2013 that he would not run for re-election, citing health concerns. In his announcement, the North Carolina Republican said he was proud of his office’s support for the people of his district.
“I think it is important for elected officials to be visible and accessible and, pardon my immodesty, I feel I have lived up to that goal," he said.