Former Republican senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia died on Sunday at the age of 76.
“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,” the Isakson Initiative announced in a post from the former senator’s Twitter.
“Funeral arrangements will be shared when finalized,” it added.
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
Isakson’s son John Isakson said his father died in his sleep in his home in Atlanta, and that while his father had Parkinson’s disease, the cause of death was not immediately apparent, the Associated Press reported.
Isakson’s Georgia political career spanned more than four decades and began in the state legislature before he worked his way up to the U.S. House and Senate, where he became known as an “effective, behind-the-scenes consensus builder,” according to Politico. During his time in Congress, Isakson helped craft the No Child Left Behind Act and worked to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, immigration policy and health care, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted.
“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,” Georgia governor Brian Kemp said in a statement. “As a businessman and a gifted retail politician, Johnny paved the way for the modern Republican Party in Georgia, but he never let partisan politics get in the way of doing what was right.”
Isakson announced in August 2019 that he would retire at the year’s end with two years left in his term after a series of health problems. In 2015, he announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s while preparing to run for a third time in the Senate. After winning reelection in 2016, he underwent a scheduled surgery on his back to address spinal deterioration. In August 2019, not long after fracturing four ribs in a fall at his Washington apartment, Isakson announced he would retire at the year’s end with two years remaining in his term.
He urged Congress to work together across party lines in a farewell speech on the Senate floor, using his long friendship with the late Representative John Lewis (D., Georgia) as an example.
“Let’s solve the problem and then see what happens,” Isakson said. “Most people who call people names and point fingers are people who don’t have a solution themselves.”
Isakson is survived by his wife, three children, and nine grandchildren.