LITTLE ROCK — Steve Bryles, director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and a former state senator, died Friday.

Bryles, who suffered from esophageal cancer, was 55.

A native of Piggott, Bryles majored in agricultural economics at the University of Arkansas and spent 27 years in the cotton industry prior to entering public service.

He was elected to the state Senate in 2000 to represent Mississippi County and northeastern Arkansas. He served 10 years. He ran unsuccessfully for the 1st District congressional seat in 2010 and started work for the state Livestock and Poultry Commission as deputy director in January 2011. He became the agency’s executive director last March.

"Steve Bryles was a good friend with a gentle heart who never wanted to stop helping people," said Gov. Mike Beebe, who served with Bryles in the Senate. "His work was always deliberate, his dedication to public service unwavering, and regardless of the stakes, he always kept a level head. In all the years I knew Steve, I don’t ever remember seeing him lose his temper."

Survivors include his wife, Pamela, and three children.