Georgians Remember Zell Miller

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Zell Miller, who served as Georgia’s Governor and as a U.S. Senator, died today. His family reports that he died peacefully surrounded by family. Miller was 86 years old and had been diagnosed and treated for Parkinson’s disease.

Miller, who was a lifetime democrat, served as Governor from 1991 to 1999. Throughout his political career he was known for being blunt about the issues and earned the nickname and catchphrase, “Give ‘Em Hell, Zell.” Prior to being governor in the 90s, Miller served as Lieutenant Gov. for 16 years from 1975 to 1991. He also served in the state senate.

When Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell died in office, then governor Roy Barnes appointed Miller to his senate post.

But Miller’s political views didn’t always fall along party lines. During his time in the senate, he was known for his frequent disagreements with his own party. Despite being a lifelong democrat, Miller supported George W. Bush in his 2004 bid for re-election and gave a speech at the Republican Convention that year. Idealogical differences aside, Miller remained a democrat and was once quoted as saying he would remain a democrat until the day he died.

Miller is most-known for the creation of the HOPE scholarship, which to date has paid for 1.8 million Georgia students to go to college.

Despite his statewide and national fame and accomplishments, Miller’s heart always remained with in his native home of Young Harris, where Miller served as mayor for two years.

At a news conference this afternoon, Miller’s grandson Bryan Miller said, “This is a man who met with presidents — he met with kings — but he never forgot where he came from, and that was Young Harris, Georgia.”

Georgia elected officials and politicians were quick to share their condolences on social media.

Fellow Georgians and even those outside of the state also honored Miller on social media:

Other notable Georgians released statements:

“Zell Miller lived a life filled with courage and the resolve to lead,” Rep. Handel said. “He served our state and this country as a Marine, Mayor, State Senator, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, U.S. Senator, and regardless of title, a statesman. All of us are better off for his life, and his service. This is especially true for the 1.8 million Georgians – and counting – that have benefitted from higher education because of his HOPE scholarship program. Steve and I send our condolences to Shirley and the entire Miller family.”

-District 6 U.S. Rep. Karen Handel


“Marty and I, along with all of Georgia, mourn the loss of a true public servant, Governor Zell Miller, who leaves behind an enduring legacy as a bold and brave leader,” said Secretary Kemp. “His efforts championing education set real opportunity within reach of so many citizens of our state through the creation of the HOPE scholarship and our nation’s first pre-kindergarten program, and we are all inspired by the unwavering values which characterized this statesman’s career. We extend our sympathies and prayers to Mrs. Shirley and the rest of the Miller family.”

-Secretary of State Brian Kemp

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