GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — William Van Regenmorter, a former West Michigan lawmaker whose noteworthy accomplishments included his authorship of the state’s Crime Victim’s Rights Act of 1985, has died. He was 73.
Van Regenmorter, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003, died Monday at his home in Ottawa County’s Georgetown Township, family friend Joseph Crawford said Tuesday.
The Republican served in the House from 1983 to 1990 before being elected to the Senate, where he served 1991-2002. He became a representative again, serving from 2003 to 2006.
“Van Regenmorter was a staple in the community, who led by example and was not only a valued mentor to me but a trusted friend as well,” U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, said in a statement. “His advice and counsel to me for over 25 years has proven to be invaluable in both my personal and professional life.”
Van Regenmorter served as chairman of the state House and Senate judiciary committees for more than 16 years. Under the Crime Victim’s Rights Act, victims are required to be notified and consulted during the various steps of the legal process, such as before a prosecutor offers a plea bargain to a defendant.
“As a legislator, he selflessly devoted his life to establishing rights for crime victims and assisting them in putting their lives back together,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement. “His goal was to bring criminals to justice, and justice to victims.”
In 2006, the Legislature took the unusual step of renaming the law to attach Van Regenmorter’s name to it.
“He loved politics and political life, but somehow he also stood above it,” said Crawford, a former editorial page editor at The Grand Rapids Press. “He was able to work with people across the aisle.”
Van Regenmorter’s survivors include his wife, Cheryl. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday morning, Crawford said.