Legislators Mourn the Death of “Georgia Giant,” Sen. Isakson
Georgia’s legislative community lost a distinguished colleague and friend this weekend as U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson died after longtime health issues. “Georgia has lost a giant, one of its greatest statesmen, and a servant leader dedicated to making his state and country better than he found it,' Governor Brian Kemp shared in an emotional press release. Kemp went on to discuss what a friend Isakson had been both personally to the Kemp family, as well as professionally to Georgia citizens.
He praised Isakson’s legacy of growing and expanding the Republican Party in Georgia, but remaining fair by never allowing partisan politics to sway him from accomplishing what he felt was right. 'His work to champion our veterans, deliver disaster relief for Georgia farmers after Hurricane Michael, and always stand up for Georgia's best interest in the U.S. Senate will live on for generations to come,' Kemp said.
Georgia Congressman Rick Allen shared similar sentiments on the loss of Isakson. “Johnny Isakson was the epitome of a statesman and respected by all who knew him. He was able to achieve so much throughout his career because he always put the interests of Georgians first and never backed down in his pursuit to deliver results,” Allen said. “Our state and nation are better off because of his leadership, and he leaves behind an incredible legacy as a champion for Georgia.”
Allen also reminisced about his time spent with Isakson through their combined efforts on the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015. This act focused on evaluating students to discover areas in which they needed extra support regardless of race, income, zip code, disability, home language, or background.
According to Allen, Isakson was a driving force for this legislation. “Johnny’s involvement is the sole reason it got signed into law.”
Along with this endeavor, Isakson devoted extensive time to the work for the improvement of Georgia throughout his life, beginning when he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1976. Isakson served in this office until 1990, when he became the Chairman of the Georgia Board of Education (GBOE). Following his two years as GBOE Chairman, Isakson served in the Georgia Senate until 1996, before becoming a Georgia Congressman in 1999, and later, a U.S. Senator for Georgia in 2004. Isakson served as a U.S. Senator for 15 years before retiring in 2019 because of health issues, particularly Parkinson’s Disease.
District 19 Georgia Senator Blake Tillery, (RVidalia), shared his personal thoughts on Isakson and the work he accomplished for Georgia. “I didn’t get the opportunity to know Senator Isakson that well, but I will never forget the amazing speaker he was,” Tillery remarked. “He never looked at his notes while speaking, yet always was knowledgeable and effective in his message. He could call people out by name and recognize them for things they have done to help communities in our state. He was one of the best speakers I have ever heard, and will be missed.”