Portland lawyer Kelly Clark, a former Oregon legislator who achieved prominence through his representation of the victims of child sex abuse, has died at 56.

Clark over the past 15 years won landmark cases for clients against the Archdiocese of Portland and the Boy Scouts of America.

His personal story was fascinating: Once a fast-rising and widely respected state representative from Lake Oswego destined for state-wide office, he crashed into alcoholism and worse, pleading guilty to third-degree sexual abuse in 1992. 

But Clark, a Republican, worked to redeem himself and built a thriving law practice defending those who'd been abused as children. 

Clark's death was first reported by the Associated Press. His law firm, O'Donnell Clark & Crew, confirmed Clark's death with a Twitter message: "We are very saddened to tell you that our partner and beloved friend Kelly Clark passed away this morning."

Steve Crew, a law partner of Clark's, says that Clark, who was known for his physical fitness,  became ill with some form of cancer earlier this year. Doctors struggled to diagnose exactly what form of cancer he had and so Clark traveled about a week ago to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he died. 

Clark's wife, Sabine Moyer Clark, died in October at age 49, only about a year after being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

WW profiled Clark in 2004, when he worked as legal counsel for the political campaign to ban same-sex marriage in Oregon.