Former South Carolina Rep. Cotty has died at age 69

FILE - Rep. Bill Cotty, R-Columbia, sits at his desk Tuesday, May 23, 2006, in Columbia, S.C. Cotty died Saturday. He was 69.

COLUMBIA — Former South Carolina Rep. Bill Cotty, a champion for public education who helped bring the Confederate flag off the Statehouse dome, has died. He was 69.

His wife Amelia told The Associated Press that Cotty died at home in Columbia on Saturday after battling lung cancer.

A native of Buffalo, New York, Cotty served in the South Carolina Army National Guard for 38 years.

First elected in 1994, Cotty served 14 years in the state House representing suburban northeast Columbia. The former Richland 2 school board member was an outspoken opponent of using tax credits to help parents pay for private school. He also advocated expanding 4-year-old kindergarten.

Cotty helped develop the compromise that moved the Confederate flag from the dome to the Statehouse lawn in 2000.