Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the last remaining World War II veteran in the Senate, died early Monday, his office said. He was 89.

The senator passed away just after 4:00 a.m. at New York Presbyterian Hospital as a result of viral pneumonia.

Lautenberg entered the Senate in 1982 and served three terms before announcing his retirement from politics in 2000. But he returned to the fray in 2002 after incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Torricelli abandoned his bid for re-election amid federal corruption charges.

Winning the 2002 race, Lautenberg went on to secure another term in 2008.

Among other causes, he promoted environmental protection, improvements in public transport, better labor conditions and benefits for military veterans, as well as the strengthening of security at chemical and maritime installations.

Lautenberg, a strong proponent of gun control, presented a bill last year to limit the purchase of ammunition on the Internet, a tactic used by the suspect in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, that caused 12 deaths and wounded 58.

The senator announced in February that he would not seek reelection. EFE