All of Louisiana was rattled to its core Tuesday night when word spread like a wildfire that Congressman-elect Luke Letlow of Start had died in a Shreveport hospital of complications from COVID-19.

Letlow was 41 years old. He is survived by his wife, Julia, their two young children, as well as an extended family and countless friends.

Letlow was elected earlier this month by an overwhelming margin to represent the 5th District of Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was scheduled to take the oath of office Jan. 3 in Washington along with every other member of the 117th Congress. He would have succeeded his lifelong friend, Congressman Ralph Abraham, who stuck by his 2014 campaign pledge to serve no more than three terms in the U.S. House and thus, paved the way for Letlow to follow in his footsteps. Letlow loyally served Abraham as his chief of staff for the past six years.

Letlow was no novice to politics or public service. Except for a brief spell working in government relations for a private company, Letlow devoted his adult life to serving others in one capacity or another. A diehard Republican, Letlow worked diligently to elect Republicans to public office including former Gov. Bobby Jindal, who described Letlow as a “good friend for so many years.” Letlow served as Jindal’s district director when Jindal was the First District congressman from 2004-2008, and he served in the Jindal administration after Jindal was elected governor in 2007.

Though he easily maneuvered the halls of power in Baton Rouge and on Capitol Hill, Letlow always called northeast Louisiana his home, particularly his beloved Richland Parish. He was upbeat and confident that he could make a difference in northeast Louisiana as the region’s next congressman. He felt it was a privilege to be elected to serve the people.

Even as a young man, Letlow stood out as someone who was destined to do big things in life. He possessed an innate ability to make everyone he came into contact with feel as though they were the most important people in the world. Yet, that’s how he truly felt about others, and the well-being of others meant the world to him.

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