Former US Representative Robert Marion Berry, an Arkansas Democrat who served seven terms the congress and was known for blunt rhetoric and his advocacy for farmers and elderly residents, has died. He was 80.

Berry, who was known as “Marion,” died Friday, his family confirmed in a statement Saturday. No cause of death was given.

“With his signature quick wit and way with words, he lived his life in service to others,” said Berry’s son, Mitch. “He truly believed that the role of government was to help people, and it was a charge he took very seriously. . . . He was generous with his time and talents, as his dozens of followers can attest.”

Berry was first elected to Congress in 1996 but decided not to seek re-election in 2010 for health reasons. He underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in July 2011.

Berry, a licensed pharmacist and farmer, was elected to represent the 1st District of eastern Arkansas after serving in President Bill Clinton’s administration as special assistant for agricultural trade and food assistance. He quickly focused on issues likely to affect his particularly poor district, including agriculture.

Clinton on Saturday praised Berry as someone who “never forgot where he came from.”

“Marion Berry was a great leader, a completely authentic person and a great friend,” Clinton said in a statement. “For more than 40 years, Hillary and I appreciated his support, valued his no-nonsense advice, and loved his great sense of humor.”

Berry was known as much for his folksy manner and verbal putdowns of his political enemies — on both sides of the aisle — as his advocacy for his rural district. He once referred to a Texas Republican congressman on the House floor as a “Howdy-Doody-looking nimrod.”

Frustrated with the George W. Bush administration’s response to disasters in Arkansas, he called Federal Emergency Management Agency “an incompetent bunch of nincompoops who just can’t run their agency.”

His congressional district was a major producer of soybeans, rice, and cotton, and Berry pushed aggressively to end the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba, which could have increased exports of those products. Berry also advocated for lowering the cost of prescriptions for seniors and blasted a prescription drug program enacted by the former Bush as a “disastrous mess” and a “real legislative disaster.”

Berry, a member of a coalition of moderate and conservative lawmakers known as the “Blue Dog Democrats,” was unapologetic about his jokes, saying it reflected his passion for representing his district. He said he would criticize anyone “when I think they are making a serious political mistake.”

“I see nothing wrong with what I have done,” he said.

Berry certainly spared no criticism for President Barack Obama. Shortly before announcing his retirement, Berry said he was disappointed by a “lack of leadership” from Obama on key issues such as health care and climate change.

Berry voted against the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care law also known as “Obamacare.” Berry complained that the measure did not provide enough protections against federal money that goes to abortions and tried to offer an alternative before the measure passed.

“A son of the Delta, Marion was a farmer and statesman whose blend of homegrown wisdom and hard-won political knowledge always made him a formidable representative of our state,” Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Berry was born in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and grew up in Bayou Meto near DeWitt. He graduated from the University of Arkansas’ College of Pharmacy in 1965.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of more than 60 years, Carolyn, a daughter, four grandchildren and a great-grandchild. A memorial service will be held June 24 at Gillett Methodist Church in Gillett, Arkansas.