Robert Schindler, 71, the father of Terri Schiavo, who became a national symbol in a closely watched right-to-die fight, has died, his son said Saturday.
Schindler, a tireless activist through years of legal wrangling, died of heart failure at a St. Petersburg, Fla., hospital. Schiavo, who courts ruled was in a "persistent vegetative state," died in 2005 after the feeding tube that had nourished her for years was removed according to her husband's wishes.
"I am heartbroken over the loss of my father, and yet I know at this moment he is rejoicing with my sister, Terri," Bobby Schindler said Saturday in a statement.
Schiavo's heart stopped in 1990 but her family insisted she wanted to live and could be helped with therapy. Schiavo was able to breathe on her own but relied on a feeding and hydration tube to live.
Her husband, Michael, said his wife would not have wanted to live in a vegetative state and had the feeding tube removed twice. Legal maneuverings continued for years.
Congress eventually passed a bill allowing a federal court to intervene and let the feeding tube remain. President George W. Bush left his Texas ranch to sign it into law.
A federal judge refused to order her feeding tube reinserted, a decision upheld by a federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
An autopsy supported Michael Schiavo's contention that his wife was in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.
Family members described Schindler as a compassionate man who led with a quiet strength during the hardest times.
Schindler and other family members founded the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation after her death.