Former state senator and Whitefish businessman Bob DePratu (de-PRAH'-toh) has died. He was 74.

Austin Funeral Home says DePratu died Friday at North Valley Hospital in Whitefish after an extended illness.

DePratu graduated from high school in Libby and received an associate degree in accounting in 1959. He began working for Rygg Ford in Whitefish before buying the dealership in 1964. He expanded DePratu Ford to include the Volkswagen and Audi lines in 1984.

DePratu served in the state Senate from 1997-2005 and was chairman of the Senate Taxation Committee. He told the Daily Inter Lake ( that his work to pass legislation to lower the state's income and capital gains taxes was his most noteworthy accomplishment as a legislator.

DePratu is survived by his wife of 54 years, Bea DePratu, two sons and a daughter.