Updated: 6:49 p.m.Paula Nowakowski, longtime aide to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), died unexpectedly on Saturday night. She was 46. The cause of death was an apparent heart attack, according to Republican aides.Boehner issued a statement on his Web site, calling the news of Nowakowski’s death a “shock.—”It is with profound sadness and shock that I announce the passing of Paula Nowakowski, my longtime chief of staff, trusted aide, and friend, who died suddenly last night,— Boehner’s statement said. “Words cannot adequately express the sorrow and disbelief I and every member of our team are grappling with today in the wake of this stunning news.”We will remember Paula as she would want to be remembered — a tireless worker, faithful friend, rabid Detroit sports fan, whipsmart strategist, warrior for freedom, and devoted Catholic who counted President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II among her greatest heroes. She will never be replaced, or forgotten. I ask for your prayers for Paula’s family.”Born in St. Clair Shores, Mich., in July 1963, Nowakowski displayed a commitment to her home state that was well-known among lawmakers. “Paula’s devotion to country made her a tireless worker and passionate advocate for working families — particularly those facing difficult struggles in her beloved Michigan,— Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement Sunday. “I will remember her strong belief in a balanced approach to governance, and her efforts as a consensus builder — which embodied the wishes and principles of our founders.—In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said: “The entire Capitol Hill community is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Paula Nowakowski. As Chief of Staff to Republican Leader John Boehner, Paula earned the respect not only of her Leadership and Conference, but all House Members on both sides of the aisle. She served Leader Boehner both in his current position as well as previously at the Committee on Education and the Workforce with great distinction.”She added, “Paula was a thorough professional who loved the House and worked in a constructive and bipartisan fashion to implement policies to help the Congress function efficiently. On behalf of the entire House, I express our deep sadness to Paula’s family, friends and our colleague, Leader John Boehner.”Nowakowski joined Boehner in 1995 as the communications director for the House Republican Conference. She briefly left Boehner’s office from 1998 to 2000 to work as the senior vice president for the American Insurance Association, but she returned in 2001 to serve as his staff director for House Education and the Workforce Committee, according to the Insider’s Guide to Key Committee Staff of the U.S. Congress. Nowakowski became Boehner’s chief of staff in 2006 and was widely viewed as an integral part of Boehner’s leadership operation.