Karl Hascall

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) Karl Hascall, a prominent Grand Rapids-area businessman and a former chairman of the Kent County Republican Party, has died, party officials said. He was 48.

Michigan Republican Party officials including chairman Saulius "Saul" Anuzis on Thursday confirmed Hascall's death.

County sheriff's deputies were summoned Wednesday afternoon to a pole barn on property that Hascall owned in Ada Township just east of Grand Rapids. They found him dead, with a single gunshot wound, sheriff's Lt. Kevin Kelley told The Grand Rapids Press.

An autopsy was performed Thursday but no further information was available from the county medical examiner's office or sheriff's office. A telephone message was left at the county GOP.

"Karl had suffered from recent health challenges, but losing him this suddenly is a shock to all of us who knew and loved him," Dave Dishaw, the county party's current chairman, said in a written statement.

Chester R. Upham Jr.

MINERAL WELLS, Texas (AP) Chester R. Upham Jr., a former state Republican Party chairman and oil and gas businessman, has died, family members said. He was 82.

Upham, a Mineral Wells native, died early Thursday surrounded by his wife and their children after a nearly six-year battle with bone cancer, said daughter, Barbara Upham.

Upham, who owned Upham Oil & Gas Co., was a prominent Republican activist in Texas who served as chairman of the state GOP from 1979-83. He was a delegate to every state Republican convention from 1960-94 and went to his party's national convention as a delegate in 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1992.

Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement Thursday calling Upham "a true pioneer for conservative causes."

"Today we mourn the loss of an honorable man," Perry said.

Other political leaders recalled Upham's contributions in helping strengthen the Republican Party during a time when state politics were largely controlled by Democrats.