Former Georgia Republican Sen, Johnny Isakson died Sunday at the age of 76, prompting politicians from both sides of aisle to praise his legacy.
Isakson’s death was announced by the The Isakson Initiative, a nonprofit that Isakson founded to raise awareness and funding for research related to neurocognitive diseases.
The former senator himself had battled Parkinson’s disease for years, though a cause of death was not specified.
It is with deep sorrow that The Isakson Initiative shares that former U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson passed away overnight on December 19, 2021, at age 76.
Sen. Isakson’s family is grateful for the prayers and support.
Funeral arrangements will be shared when finalized.
— Johnny Isakson (@SenatorIsakson) December 19, 2021
Decades ago, Isakson served in the Georgia Air National Guard before enjoying a successful real estate career, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Isakson, who was a member of the Georgia legislature for 17 years, won election in 1999 to the House seat vacated by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
According to The New York Times: “In the House, Mr. Isakson joined the education committee and became a strong advocate of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, which required states to test all elementary and high school students and close gaps in reading and math achievement. He was photographed with the president in the Oval Office and aboard Air Force One, and was soon a national notable.”
Then in 2004, he ran for Senate and won. Isakson served in the Senate until he retired in 2019, citing health reasons.
Isakson opposed gay marriage, abortion and the Affordable Care Act, but he earned a reputation as a well-liked deal-maker who could drive both sides to compromise.
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) December 19, 2021
Democrats and Republicans, including current members of the Senate, mourned Isakson’s passing:
Read my full statement on the passing of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson below: pic.twitter.com/RS9Cw3gxM3
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) December 19, 2021
Saddened to hear of the passing of former U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. Sen. Isakson was a true public servant, a patriot, and a devoted family man. Heidi and I send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to the Isakson family. https://t.co/rAiEfpCIwa
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 19, 2021
No one I have served with in the Senate was kinder or more universally respected by his colleagues than Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia
May God grant his soul peace and eternal life
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 19, 2021
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson served the whole of Georgia with attention and fairness. With every interaction, my respect for him grew and never wavered. Though we held different ideologies, I was honored to call him friend. God’s peace to his family, loved ones and friends.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) December 19, 2021
I’ll always cherish the many times Senator Johnny Isakson joined us at Ebenezer Baptist Church and the advice he gave me when I was elected to the seat he once held.
He was an upstanding elected official, and an even better man. One of Georgia’s finest. I will miss him. pic.twitter.com/YTztP6Bs1M
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) December 19, 2021
Yesterday we lost Senator Johnny Isakson, a good man and a noble public servant. When I arrived in the Senate, he took me to lunch to offer advice and show me the ropes. He was always incredibly warm and gracious. Doug and I are thinking of Dianne and the entire Isakson family.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) December 20, 2021
We lost former Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia today. My prayers are with the Isakson family who were steadfastly there for him through his Parkinson’s. Johnny was a thoughtful public servant who loved his country and looked for solutions. He and I were pals & I will miss him.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) December 19, 2021
“If you had a vote in the Senate on who’s the most respected and well-liked member, Johnny would win probably 100 to nothing,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was close to Isakson, told The AJC in 2019. “His demeanor is quite different from what most people expect of politicians.”
Isakson was survived by his wife and three children.