Daines was instrumental in engineering public health policy to deal with the swine flu outbreak in 2009, when it was considered a major threat.
But he probably achieved more notoriety for his aggressive lobbying for a state tax on sugared sodas in an effort to boost public health. A video he made on YouTube a few years ago on how drinking soda can cause obesity became a national phenomenon.
Rugge said Daines' lobbying effort on behalf of healthy lifestyles would not be futile.
"Ten years from now, Dr. Daines will be seen as a pioneer," Rugge said, adding that he and Daines shared plans this summer to traverse the Hudson River Gorge together - plans that will now never be realized.