Mo. Rep. Bishop dies at 35 of illness

Bishop was elected to a second term in Clay County in November.
Friday, December 10, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:33 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — State Rep. Dan Bishop of Kansas City died Thursday in Arizona after an illness, House colleagues said. He was 35.

Mr. Bishop, a Democrat, won the election in November to a second term from District 38 in Clay County, and colleagues had recently elected him vice chairman of their House caucus.

Bishop “passed away peacefully this morning in Arizona,” Rep. Clint Zweifel, D-Florissant, said in an e-mail Thursday to House colleagues.

In a telephone interview, Zweifel declined to describe Bishop’s illness, citing a respect for Bishop’s wishes.

“He had been dealing with some health issues for some time,” Zweifel said, “and he went to Arizona so he could be with his family and get health treatment.”

Rep. Trent Skaggs, D-North Kansas City, also said he did not know how Bishop died.

“No one was as in touch with his district as Dan Bishop,” Skaggs said. “He didn’t get caught up in Democrat or Republican. He got caught up in what was right for his district and the people he represented.”

Besides being colleagues, Bishop and Zweifel were friends who even vacationed together with their families at Disney World this year during the legislative spring break.

“He really, really loved public service, and in particular, he loved the personal relationships you develop when you’re in public service,” Zweifel said. “You talk to the guy, and he just gives you energy. He just makes you feel great.”

Bishop’s legislative assistant, Lisa Hurst, said she was unaware he was ill until recently and didn’t know what was ailing him.

“It’s quite a shock,” Hurst said.

Bishop was an attorney and adjunct professor of political science at William Jewell College in Liberty. He was a former mayor and councilman in Gladstone and a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist, which practices prayer-based healing.

Among his various legislative efforts, Bishop was a co-sponsor of a 2003 law that included a “Christian Science practitioner” under the definition of a “minister” required to report suspected child abuse or neglect. The previous child-abuse reporting law also had applied to Christian Science practitioners but had not categorized them as ministers.

A native of East Branch, N.Y., Bishop graduated from Kansas City’s Oak Park High School and Westminster College in Fulton. He received his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

He is survived by his wife, Leslie, and their two sons, Ben and Luke.

A memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. Tuesday in Kansas City at the Northland Cathedral, Hurst said.

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