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FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2016, file photo, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, announces his victory during the Democratic watch party at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, in Nashville, Tenn. Cooper's office says the Democrat's wife, Martha Cooper, died Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, at their Nashville home, years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper's wife died Thursday "after years of struggling with Alzheimer's," the Democrat's office announced.

Martha Cooper, 66, passed away surrounded by her husband and children at their Nashville home, according to a news release.

"The family is grateful for the outpouring of support these last weeks," Cooper's office said.

The longtime Nashville congressman had been married to Martha Cooper for nearly 36 years. The couple had three children together and one grandchild.

"Martha's charm and optimism were heroic, eclipsing her illness," a tribute for Martha Cooper stated. "She loved car travel; on bumpy roads she'd say 'this makes me wiggle.' In recent years, she drew wobbly hearts on everything with a Sharpie when she could find one."

Jim Cooper has held his Nashville-area House seat since 2003. Before that, he spent time serving in the House from 1983 to 1995.

More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more worldwide have Alzheimer's. Current drugs only temporarily ease symptoms and do not alter the course of the disease.

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