On Sunday morning, the family of Senator Johnny Isakson announced he had died overnight at age 76. Isakson, a Republican who was known for working on both sides of the political aisle and finding friends among both Republican and Democratic parties, was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1976, to the Georgia Senate in 1992, to the U.S. House in 1999, and to the U.S. Senate in 2004. In 2016, as he was running for re-election, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but continued his campaign and won in the fall. In December 2019, he resigned from the seat due to his declining health.
Isakson was popular and well-liked among both voters and his colleagues; he chaired two Senate committees in 2015. In an interview with Atlanta in 2016, he said of his bipartisanship, “If it’s only going to be your way or the highway, you’re never going to get anything done. If you’re willing to find common ground on 80 percent of an issue, then don’t lose it over the 20 percent where you can’t find it. That’s always been the way I’ve operated. It’s served me well.”
In 2019, as he retired, he told the AJC, “I just hope what everybody will do is look beyond the pettiness of today’s politics . . . to try and bring us back to some even keel, where we can disagree amicably and agree aptly and solve problems rather than create them.”
Below, here’s what some on social media—politicians, local leaders, reporters, and local organizations—had to say about Isakson’s life.
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
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
Senator Johnny Isakson leaves an indelible mark of service and grace on Georgia, the Senate and our country. God blessed our state with this tireless champion of building bridges, who dedicated his life to his faith, family, and community. pic.twitter.com/ds3N0VzSb3
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) December 19, 2021
Bonnie and I are heartbroken by the passing of former U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. Johnny was an effective colleague, a mentor I looked up to, and a friend whom I deeply cherished. pic.twitter.com/UBELfGXY6F
— David Perdue (@DavidPerdueGA) December 19, 2021
— Ossoff's Office (@SenOssoff) December 19, 2021
— City of Atlanta, GA (@CityofAtlanta) December 19, 2021
President Biden on the passing of former Senate colleague Johnny Isakson:
“…let us heed the wisdom he offered upon retiring from the Senate, where he urged everyone to devote less energy to describing problems and more effort to working together to provide answers.” #gapol pic.twitter.com/RycMKG3qMg
— stephen fowler (@stphnfwlr) December 19, 2021
Profoundly sad to hear about the passing of Sen. Johnny Isakson. Like he was to many, Sen. Isakson was truly a role model for me in politics and taught me the value of making friends and building consensus. We can all learn lessons from the life of service led by Sen. Isakson.
— Geoff Duncan (@GeoffDuncanGA) December 19, 2021
Today, Georgia mourns the loss of a great statesman and stalwart public servant who for decades worked diligently across the aisle for the common good of our communities.
— Rep. David Scott (@repdavidscott) December 19, 2021
— Speaker David Ralston (@SpeakerRalston) December 19, 2021
Senator Johnny Isakson was a true statesman who cared deeply for Georgia and our country. My prayers are with Senator Isakson’s family and loved ones at this time.
— Congresswoman Nikema Williams (@RepNikema) 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
Senator Johnny Isakson’s passing marks the end of an era.Johnny was a founder of the modern Georgia GOP.His years of patient, steady work with an always positive attitude, a smile for everyone, and a balanced approach to life, politics, and government made Georgia a better place.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) December 19, 2021
I sat with Johnny Isakson the day after I won my election in 2010 (pictured here). He was a unifying presence & every question I asked him about energy issues, he knew immense detail. He worked to pass legislation to improve VA accountability & expand education benefits. RIP Sir! pic.twitter.com/oLPzViQ28r
— Tim Echols (@timechols) December 19, 2021
— Lauren Claffey Tomlinson (@laurenctom) December 19, 2021
Senator Isakson was a true statesman who loved our great state of Georgia and served it admirably for more than 40 years. I am praying for the Isakson family and their loved ones today. #gapol https://t.co/B0d9onchbE
— Jen Jordan (@senatorjen) December 19, 2021
Senator Johnny Isakson was the first elected official to congratulate me on my appointment as @ItsInDeKalb Solicitor-General in 2011. He was the epitome of servant leader to me. He was one of a kind and we could all take a page from his book. #RIP #gapol pic.twitter.com/n4EbprDu4y
— Sherry Boston (@SherryBostonDA) December 19, 2021
Sen. Johnny Isakson’s view of community is worthy of our reflection now and always. It’s not just “have to live together,” it’s “want to live together.” The disagreements never overcame his desire for friendship. We are at grave risk of losing that ethic. May he rest in peace.
— Josh McLaurin (@JoshforGeorgia) December 19, 2021
Please see a statement from Jimmy Carter on the passing of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. pic.twitter.com/O2zSVRzeeY
— The Carter Center (@CarterCenter) December 19, 2021
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. pic.twitter.com/RUyXviHF8o
— Rick W. Allen (@RepRickAllen) December 19, 2021
John Lewis died one year ago today.
11/19/19: Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on House floor: “I will come over to meet you, brother." They hug.
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) July 17, 2021
Heavy heart learning that Johnny Isakson has died. No one welcomed me to the Senate like he did; no one better demonstrated integrity, honesty & kindness. The loss will be felt by the people he served, the veterans he championed & the nation he loved. Rest well, my good friend.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 19, 2021
Mourning my dear, dear friend Johnny Isakson. @SenatorIsakson, I will forever cherish your kindness, wisdom and friendship. I display this plaque you gave me on our last trip along to Iraq proudly.
Rest In Peace, my brother Soldier. pic.twitter.com/OXkzcci6pR
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) December 19, 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
Johnny Isakson was a true statesman, a fierce advocate for veterans, and a good friend that you rarely find. It was one of the great honors of my lifetime to serve alongside him on the Veterans Affairs Committee, and I’m keeping Dianne and his whole family in my prayers. pic.twitter.com/wt5js4ENMd
— Senator Jon Tester (@SenatorTester) December 19, 2021
Elaine and I are extremely sad to learn of the passing of our dear friend, Johnny Isakson. Today, we are united with Johnny’s family in their grief. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/FZc3xwV1pl
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) December 19, 2021
Johnny Isakson was everyone’s friend and no one‘s enemy. If there had been a vote in the Senate on who the nicest person was, he would have won in a landslide.
I am so sorry to learn of his passing and send my heartfelt condolences to Dianne and their children. RIP, my friend.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) December 19, 2021
We extend our condolences to the family of former U.S. senator from Georgia, Johnny Isakson. Senator Isakson was a bridge builder in the Senate and was a staunch supporter of our MLK Day Commemorative Service, attending even when not scheduled to speak. 📸: @ajc pic.twitter.com/2CR8SPWJAM
— The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center (@TheKingCenter) December 19, 2021
Statement from club owner Arthur M. Blank on the passing of Senator Johnny Isakson. pic.twitter.com/itvY5hiQyM
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) December 19, 2021
Statement by Jere W. Morehead, President, University of Georgia, on the passing of Senator John H. “Johnny” Isakson: pic.twitter.com/Adtryuv6ss
— UGA (@universityofga) December 19, 2021
Senator Johnny Isakson was a beloved friend and supporter of Morehouse School of Medicine, as well as an advocate for health equity. In his passing, we honor his commitment to service and the many ways he worked to improve the lives of Georgians and people around the world. pic.twitter.com/wPwdHz3I9R
— MSM (@MSMEDU) December 19, 2021
Sen. Johnny Isakson consistently supported #RyanWhite, @CDCgov, @NIHFunding. This was my last meeting with him in DC, June 2019, w @colleenfkelley. He was physically frail, but mentally very sharp and always gracious. RIP Senator. @HIVMA @EmoryCFAR pic.twitter.com/oTQGLhSP01
— Melanie Thompson (@drmt) December 19, 2021
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 19, 2021
Johnny Isakson was a good friend and ally of @nokidhungry. He and I met many times, and were friendly, never seeing eye to eye on politics, but that don't matter. He was a good human at heart. Rest in Peace Senator.
— Hugh Acheson (@HughAcheson) December 20, 2021
The Passing of Johnny Isakson.
John Lewis welcomes Johnny Isakson to Congress in 1999.
John Lewis says farewell to Johnny Isakson in 2019. #gapol
— Rahul Bali (@rahulbali) December 19, 2021
I got to talk with Johnny Isakson almost every day when I covered Capitol Hill for the @ajc. Above all else, he radiated decency. Even when it was clear he didn't want to talk to a needling reporter like myself, he always treated me with kindness and respect. RIP #gapol
— Tamar Hallerman (@TamarHallerman) December 19, 2021
My first job in D.C. was as an intern in Johnny Isakson’s office.
No one cared more about their staff, and no one was more respected by their colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
He’ll be deeply missed. pic.twitter.com/QtGwUx9Rbj
— Morgan Rimmer (@morgan_rimmer) December 19, 2021
Sad to learn of the passing of Johnny Isakson. @SenatorIsakson worked across the aisle on food security, energy, and alleviating global poverty. He traveled to Africa + beyond, served on foreign relations committees & was a champion of @ONECampaign @CARE. He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/YPr6RxYaAE
— Kristi York Wooten (@kristiwooten) December 19, 2021
I grew up across the street from the home Sen Isakson was raised in. I liked to remind him of that each time Congressman Lewis reintroduced us. Eventually he remembered me and would say “Hello, neighbor” when I saw him. Georgia lost a statesman today. Goodbye, neighbor. pic.twitter.com/nD5KyiPjKT
— Andrew Aydin (@andrewaydin) December 19, 2021