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CHARLESTON — A man who spent more than 20 years in public service to the state of West Virginia has died. Former House of Delegates speaker Bob Kiss, 63, died Friday, government employees confirmed Friday evening.

An attorney, voters in southern West Virginia elected Kiss, a Raleigh County Democrat, to the House nine times starting in 1988. He served as House speaker from 1997 until 2006, when he left the House to move to Charleston and practice law with Bowles Rice.

Kiss briefly returned to state government in 2013 to work as secretary of revenue for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Kiss worked in the Governor’s Office until January 2017, when he returned to Bowles Rice.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Tim Armstead, who served as House speaker from 2014-18, said Kiss’ wife, Melinda, and their two adult sons are in his thoughts and prayers.

Armstead was first elected to the House in 1998, and he served in the House with Kiss for eight years.

“I’m very sorry to learn of the passing of my former legislative colleague, Speaker Bob Kiss,” Armstead said in a tweet. “He devoted many years of dedicated service to our state as a lawyer, legislative leader and Revenue Secretary.”

In his biography on the Bowles Rice website, Kiss’ legislative accomplishments are listed as involving the West Virginia School Building Authority, water and sewer infrastructure development, state tax policy, state health care plans, including PEIA and Medicaid, retirement systems, the workers’ compensation system and tax increment financing, commonly referred to as TIF, legislation.

Much of Kiss’ practice at Bowles Rice dealt with TIF law, as well as bond and financing matters and sports betting in the state.

A New Jersey native, Kiss grew up moving throughout the country with his family as part of his father’s career in the U.S. Air Force.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Ohio State University in 1979 and his law degree from OSU in 1982.

Fresh out of law school, Kiss worked for Gorman Sheatsley & Co. in Beckley, where he ultimately made his home and started his family and his career in public service.

Kiss is survived by his wife and their two adult sons.

Lacie Pierson covers politics for HD Media. She can be reached at 304-348-1723 or lacie.pierson@hdmediallc.com. Follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

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