Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough's Father Dies

Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough's Father Dies
Howie Dorough
Goff/INF

06/23/2008 AT 04:00 PM EDT

Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough is mourning his father, Hoke, who died in his sleep, PEOPLE has confirmed. He was 69.

Dorough's father, a longtime code enforcement supervisor in Orange County, Fla., had been diagnosed in March with lung and brain cancer. Howie, 34, and his bandmates previously canceled their South Africa concerts so the singer and his wife Leigh, 34, could be with his dad.

"Our family just wants to say thanks for all your prayers for my father, Hoke Dorough. His strong will helped him to fight cancer for the past three months. I was blessed to be able to spend the last month with him and create some memories that I will take with me forever," Howie said in a statement on behalf of his family.

Earlier this year, Howie, in an open letter to fans on Myspace, said his father had grown weaker following radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Still, his father had "been very brave and positive with everything. He is not giving up." In the statement released Monday, Howie added: "This past week my family and I rented a RV and took him to his hometown in Georgia where he had a family and high school reunion of over 50 people. He held on the whole trip and had an amazing time, bringing things back full circle. Unfortunately, within the last few days he took a turn for the worse. He passed away Sunday morning peacefully in his sleep and is no longer suffering.

"Thank you for all the love and support you sent to me and my family during this difficult time. Your kind words and thoughts have been very much appreciated. God bless."

In lieu of flowers, the Dorough family has requested that donations be made in Hoke's name to the Dorough Lupus Foundation, PO Box 110697, Palm Bay, FL 32911. For more info, see: www.doroughlupusfoundation.org.

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