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    Local, state, federal leaders remember Zell Miller

    March 29, 2018

March 29, 2018

Local, state, federal leaders remember Zell Miller

Former Georgia Gov., Lt. Gov. and U.S. Senator Zell Miller, 86, died peacefully surrounded by loved ones March 23 in Young Harris, where he was mayor from 1959 to 1960, after being treated for Parkinson’s disease, his family announced.

He was a state senator from 1961 to 1964, and became the longest-serving lieutenant governor in Georgia history, in office for 16 years from 1975 to 1991.

Miller was governor from 1991 to 1999 and a U.S. senator from 2000 to 2005.

Local leaders mourned the passing of the 46-year public servant.

Fairburn Mayor Elizabeth Carr-Hurst called him a legend and a visionary.

“Governor Miller was a visionary in that he wanted every child in Georgia to be afforded higher education,” she said. “He was responsible for creating HOPE—Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally—the unique scholarship and grant program that rewards students with financial assistance in degree, diploma, and certificate programs at Georgia’s public and private institutions.”

His legend resides in his tenacity to fight for Georgia’s children’s higher education, Carr-Hurst said.

“The state of Georgia has lost a great man, who answered the call to serve by helping millions,” she said. “If all of us in public service can leave half the legacy of Governor Miller, then our service will not be in vain.”

College Park Mayor Jack P. Longino said Miller was an outstanding statesman.

“I think that Gov. and Senator Zell Miller was one of the greatest leaders that Georgia ever had,” Longino said. “He’s credited with the HOPE scholarship and consensus-building. I am very proud to have known him as the governor and as lieutenant governor. I wish all of our leaders were as great as he was.”

Hampton Mayor Steve Hutchison said Miller will be missed by everyone in the state.

“My thoughts are with his family during this time,” Hutchison said. “We will be praying for his family.”

U.S. District 13 Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, said he was deeply saddened to hear of Miller’s death.

“Governor Miller was not only my good friend and partner, but he was my mentor throughout my career in public service as a state representative for eight years, state senator for 20 years and now 15 years as a U.S. Congressman,” Scott said in a statement.

From left are District 13 U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, and then-U.S. Sen. Zell Miller in the early 2000s.

Scott credited Miller with appointing him as chairman of the Senate higher education committee and helping him become chairman of the Senate rules committee, making him the first African-American to hold that powerful position, which regulates sending legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.

“May we all be inspired to continue Zell Miller’s deeply impactful legacy of service,” Scott said.

According to the Miller Institute Foundation’s website, Miller was born Feb. 24, 1932 in Young Harris, where he grew up and attended Young Harris College, graduating in 1951 before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He served from 1953 to 1956, advancing to the rank of sergeant.

He graduated from the University of Georgia with a master’s degree in history in 1958.

After graduation, he returned to Young Harris College, where he began a long career as an educator.

Miller married Shirley Carver on Jan. 14, 1954. They were married for 64 years and together they had two sons.

Young Harris College held a memorial service March 26.

A celebration of life service will be held at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Buckhead on March 27 at 11 a.m.

Miller will lie in state in the Georgia State Capitol rotunda, 206 Washington St. SW, Atlanta for the remainder of the day.

The executive state funeral service will be held in the rotunda March 28 at 11 a.m.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are expected to attend.

Gov. Nathan Deal will preside.

“It is with a heavy heart that Sandra and I offer Shirley our deepest condolences on the passing of her devoted husband, Zell,” Deal said in a statement. “Georgia has lost a favorite son and a true statesman, and I’ve lost a dear friend.”

Deal, who served with Miller in the state Senate, called his legacy “unequaled” and his accomplishments in public service “innumerable.”

He said Miller made a mark in private life as a son, husband, father and grandfather.

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs said Miller’s legacy includes creating the lottery-funded Georgia pre-K program, which has helped more than 1.6 million 4-year olds begin their education.

“In the early days of Georgia Pre-K, Governor and Mrs. Miller gave every student a copy of one of his favorite books, ‘The Little Engine That Could,’” Jacobs said in a statement. “Today, Governor, you don’t need to say, ‘I think I can, I think I can.’ Instead you can proudly, boldly and honestly say, ‘I did.’”

Other mourners include Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

“We are all inspired by the unwavering values which characterized this statesman’s career,” Kemp said in a statement.

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., ran for governor in 1990 against Miller, who appointed him state school board chair in 1996, and won Miller’s former U.S. Senate seat in 2004.

Isakson said he will miss the public servant and friend.

“I do not know of anyone who impacted the lives of Georgians more than Zell. His Marine Corps values of patriotism and loyalty guided his career in service to his state and his country,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Senator David Perdue, R-Ga., said Miller touched the lives of many.

“Throughout his career, Zell Miller was a strong advocate for the value of a public education and made it his mission to ensure Georgia students had the opportunity to pursue a college degree,” Perdue said in a statement. “Because of his work on the HOPE scholarship program, over 1.8 million Georgians have been able to attend a public college or university in Georgia who may not have been able to otherwise. His legacy will live on through them.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Miller Institute Foundation, www.millerfoundation.com, in Miller’s memory.

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