HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Lou Rell, the husband of former Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, has died. He was 73 and had battled cancer.

Michael Rell said his father died on Saturday at a Florida hospital surrounded by family members.

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In a tribute to Rell, the Connecticut Republican Party said he served the nation as a Navy pilot and the state as the governor’s spouse. Lou Rell, a retired pilot when his wife took office, avoided the limelight. He was often seen by her side during her tenure as a Republican governor from 2004 to 2011.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Rell was devoted to his family and their loss will be felt by many in Connecticut.

The Rell family said funeral arrangements are being made final. Services will be in Connecticut.

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