BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Former longtime North Dakota Rep. James Kerzman died in a weekend tractor accident on his farm near Mott. He was 68 years old.

Hettinger County Sheriff Sarah Warner confirmed Kerzman’s death but declined to release details Monday, saying the incident was still under investigation. Kerzman’s wife of nearly three decades, Jill, told the AP that he had been working alone in a Quonset on Saturday.

“A tractor must have slipped into gear. We think he was run over by a tire,” she said.

Kerzman, a Democrat, served in the state House from 1991 through 2009. He was defeated in his re-election bid in 2010.

“He had a deep concern about agriculture and social issues,” said Darrell Dorgan, a former journalist from Regent, near Mott, who covered many legislative sessions during Kerzman’s time in office.

“He was a genuinely very good guy,” Dorgan said. “He didn’t have any enemies that I know, no politically harsh adversaries. He just genuinely cared about people. He got along with everybody. He was a very fine gentleman.”

Kerzman attended Assumption Abbey High School at Richardton and never forgot the lessons he learned from the monks there, Jill Kerzman said.

“I think he will be remembered for serving those who were less fortunate — trying to make legislation that met the needs of those less fortunate,” she said.

Kerzman also was active in his community, serving on the board of a rural electric cooperative and being active in Farmers Union and Knights of Columbus.

He leaves behind 10 children and 21 grandchildren, with two more grandchildren on the way.

“He was the most wonderful husband, the most wonderful father, and he loved his grandbabies with all his heart,” Jill Kerzman said.

His funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Mott Armory.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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