Lanesboro, MN (KROC-AM News) - A prominent former state lawmaker from Fillmore County died last weekend after a long battle with cancer.

Duane Benson was 73-years-old. Prior to his political career, the Lanesboro native spent ten years playing professional football in the NFL as a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders, followed by the Atlanta Falcons, and Houston Oilers that included an appearance in the first Super Bowl in 1969.

Benson was first elected to the Minnesota Legislature in 1980 and served 14-years in the State Senate that included 7-years as the Senate Majority leader when he played a key role in the creation of the MinnesotaCare program. Benson resigned from the State Senate in 1994 to accept a job as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Business Partnership. He also served on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and the Minnesota Sports Authority as it planned for the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

A memorial service will take place Thursday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 11 AM with a visitation at the church beginning at 9 AM.  More details can be found at Riley Funeral Home.