Republican Sen. John Warner Dies at 94 – Updated

Update: In honor of Senator John Warner, Governor Ralph Northam ordered that the Virginia state flag be flown at half-staff over the Virginia Capitol on the day of his funeral.


Former Senator John W. Warner of Virginia passed away Tuesday night from heart failure. From the Washington Post:

John W. Warner, the five-term U.S. senator from Virginia who helped plan the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations, played a central role in military affairs and gained respect on both sides of the aisle for his diligence, consensus-building and independence, has died in Alexandria, Va., at 94.

His former chief of staff Carter Cornick announced the death but did not provide further detail.

Because of his willingness to buck his increasingly conservative party, Mr. Warner became the Republican whom many Virginia independents and Democrats respected and voted for. By the time he retired in 2009, Mr. Warner held the second-longest tenure of a Virginia senator.

As a former secretary of the Navy and, in later years, one of only a handful of World War II veterans in the Senate, his opinions on military matters carried considerable weight. His consensus-building on a number of critical issues led him to be known as one of the Senate’s more influential members.

Sen. Warner’s obit of his full life of public service is in today’s New York Times.

A World War II and Korean War vet, he was a former Secretary of the Navy and served three decades in the U.S. Senate. As the news began to spread, reactions were almost immediate.

From Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D):

“I am stunned at the loss of John Warner. Virginia has lost an unmatched leader, and my family has lost a dear friend.

“John Warner and my father-in-law, Linwood Holton, interrupted their college studies to join the Navy during World War II. Each served in the Pacific theatre, and they met when they returned to Washington and Lee at the close of the war. Their fraternity brother days started a friendship that lasted 75 years. Lin and John worked together, built the Virginia Republican Party from irrelevance into a formidable force, competed against one another in the 1978 Virginia Senate race, and always found time for new projects and humorous reminiscence.

“When I married Anne in 1984, I entered the large circle of John’s friends. From his thirty-year post in the Senate, he helped me as Mayor and Governor again and again. In particular, I will never forget his advocacy that helped save the Metro Silver Line from the brink of extinction. His advice on matters large and small (mostly solicited but occasionally offered even though I hadn’t asked!) was always farsighted, patriotic, and delivered in pithy and memorable phrases.

“Once I came to the Senate, I understood even more deeply the influence of John Warner. I came to know John McCain, Carl Levin, and so many others who served with him and attested to his integrity and outsized influence in a body he loved so dearly. In particular, John’s service in the Navy during World War II, as a Marine during the Korean War, and as Secretary of the Navy, made him a steady hand as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And in this new chapter in my life, John’s advice again became essential.

“I consider it a deep honor to represent Virginia on the Armed Services Committee as John did, and I often think of him during Armed Services deliberations, wondering how he would handle the dilemmas of the day. Shortly after I was elected to my first term, I asked John to lunch in the Senate Dining Room. He hadn’t been in many years. When he walked into the room, the place absolutely lit up, and a steady stream of Senators and Senate staff made a path to the table to visit with a person they loved so much.

“John and I once talked about how the Senate of today was more partisan and less relationship-based than during his years of service. But at the end of our conversation, he told me: “But Tim, it’s not in the water supply or sick building syndrome. It’s in the character and priorities of the people who walk into the building every day. So you have a chance to walk into the Capitol and make it better each day.”

“Not having John Warner to go to for advice leaves a big hole in my life. But we can all celebrate a public servant who stood on principle, made us proud, and exemplified the best of what politics can be.

“My condolences go out to Jeanne and the entire Warner family.”

From Virginia U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D):

“I’m devastated to hear of the passing of my dear friend John Warner. To me, he was the gold standard in Virginia. I will forever be grateful for his friendship and mentorship. I’ll miss you, John.”

From Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott (D):

“It is with a heavy heart that I learned of the passing of John Warner. A veteran of World War II and the Korean War before he served in the Senate, John dedicated his life to serving his country and the Commonwealth of Virginia. John served as the dean of Virginia’s congressional delegation for many years and set the tone for how Democrats and Republicans should work together for the betterment of all Virginians. That is a tradition that our congressional delegation strives to continue today. In the Senate, John was always focused on what was best for the Commonwealth, and he could always be relied on to prioritize the people he served, not party or politics. I send my deepest condolences to John’s family and loved ones and all those who were impacted by his life of public service.”

From former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R):

“I was very sorry to hear of the passing of former U.S. Senator John Warner. Senator Warner loved our country, the men and women in our military, and Virginia. He served us well, in many different capacities – a soldier, Secretary of the Navy, and of course, as one of our U.S. Senators for 30 years. He was known as a gentlemen, a centrist and someone who worked for the good of the nation without regard to politics. We need more like him. RIP Senator Warner, and thank you for your service.”

From former Virginia House of Delegates member Kris Amundson (D):

“Sad news this morning. John Warner, Virginia’s longtime US Senator, died last night. He was a patriot and a leader who put country first. RIP.”

From Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly (D):

“Saddened to learn of the passing of former Senator John Warner. He was a Gentleman who maintained civility in his politics in an era of rising intolerance. He was the go-to congressional contact to get things done when I was Fairfax County Chairman during the BRAC process and resisted extremist elements In his own party. He is missed.”

From former Warner employee Marion McDonald:

“I was so sad to learn of the loss tonight of my first boss, US Senator John Warner. This distinguished statesman spent a lifetime honorably giving back to his country including serving in two wars in both the US Navy and Marine Corps, as Secretary of the US Navy during Vietnam, chairing the the American Bicentennial, and serving 30 years in the US Senate. Senator Warner was even knighted as a member of the OBE by the Queen of England! Back then, we were blessed to work with many fine lawmakers who actually put aside their own differences and reached “across the aisle” to work with colleagues and put the American people first.

“It was indeed a privilege to work for a man of such great character and integrity, one who often took political risks based on his strong personal convictions – a shining example of the Greatest Generation. For those of us fortunate enough to work for Senator Warner, we were truly like a family, and I will forever cherish the lifelong bonds with my fellow “Warner Brothers and Sisters.”

“I was so blessed to recently spend some time with the senator in his lovely garden, and I look forward to gathering once more to celebrate the life of this remarkable statesman. Ìn the meantime, I salute this fine Virginia gentleman and wish him fair winds and following seas.”

From Mike Fletcher, former George Allen administration employee:

“Rest in peace, Senator John Warner. I met him on several occasions over the years. He was truly a Virginia gentleman.”

From Bearing Drift senior contributor Kristina Nohe:

“Rest in Peace John Warner. You were an example of service we should all try to emulate.”

UPDATE x1 Wednesday….

From Virginia Congressman Ben Cline (R):

“Today Virginians mourn the loss of John Warner, a man whose life’s work was dedicated to serving others and the Commonwealth. He will be remembered as a staple of Virginia politics who was unrelenting in his efforts to bolster our Nation’s military to ensure the safety and security of the United States. John fought tirelessly for the people of Virginia, and his life and legacy will not soon be forgotten. Elizabeth and I offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and to all of those who were fortunate enough to know him.”

From Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D):

“Virginia, and America, have lost a giant.

“As a sailor, a senator, a statesman, and a gentleman, former U.S. Senator John Warner spent his life in public service. A World War II veteran of the Navy, he served as Secretary of the Navy, led the Senate Armed Services Committee, and was a respected voice in Washington on military affairs.

“John helped build up his political party and always remained an independent voice. He used that voice in the Senate to forge bipartisan compromise, knowing how and when to reach across the aisle. And he always put Virginia first.

“John Warner truly was the best of what public service and elected leadership should be, and his loss leaves a deep void. Pam and I join the Commonwealth in mourning his death. Our prayers for comfort go out to his wife Jeanne, his three children, grandchildren, scores of friends, and all those who loved him.”

In honor of Senator John Warner, Governor Northam ordered that the Virginia state flag be flown at half-staff over the Virginia Capitol on the day of his funeral.

Update x2 Wednesday…

From Bob Stuart, retired political reporter for the Waynesboro News-Virginian….

“I had the chance to cover Sen. John Warner on multiple occasions while a reporter. His knowledge of foreign affairs served as a template for current members of the U.S. Senate, such as Tim Kaine. Warner also reached across the aisle, working with Democrats on multiple pieces of legislation. He became an elder statesman in the U.S. Senate. On a more personal level, he spoke at a dinner for a political action committee my dad ran in Richmond. Of course the star of that dinner was Warner’s then wife, Elizabeth Taylor.”

From Tucker Martin, former communications director for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and communications consultant in RVA….

“Right out of college my buddy was John Warner’s body man. Super Bowl weekend he casually told him we were having a party for the game. Didn’t think anything of it. Bunch of 22/23 year olds came over. Doorbell rings. It’s John Warner. Holding a 6-pack. Stayed the entire time.”

From Del. Israel O’Quinn in HoD-05….

“I was driving him down 81 one day in 2002 and apparently had one hand on the wheel and he said, ‘I survived two wives and two wars and I’m not dying in your car. Two hands on the wheel, son!’ ”

From Brian Schoeneman, attorney and editor-in-chief emeritus for Bearing Drift….

“Very sad to hear of the passing of Senator John Warner. I have been in Virginia politics long enough to have worked with him and to have been around when he was a revered figure within the Virginia GOP. His brand of centrist politics was both accepted and lauded. Different era.”

From Dr. Larry Sabato, political scientist and analyst who is Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics….

“RIP Senator John W. Warner, who served Virginia and the nation from 1979-2009. Veteran of both WWII and the Korean War. He was 94 and passed peacefully last evening in his home in Alexandria, VA.”

Update x3 Wednesday….

From the Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn on the passing former U.S. Senator John Warner, a member of the Board of Directors and recipient of the organization’s 2016 Champions of the Chesapeake Award. Sen. Warner supported legislation to create and support the Chesapeake Bay Program and was instrumental in passing legislation to establish the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail in 2006:

“Senator Warner loved Virginia and he loved the Chesapeake Bay and its great rivers.

“As one of the first members of Congress to seek legislative actions to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay, he also supported legislation to create and support the Chesapeake Bay Program.

“Along with the late Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, Senator Warner was a force behind the creation of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail in 2006, which led to new opportunities for partnerships, collective impact and new federal, state and private funding for conservation, public access and restoration.

“As a board member of the Chesapeake Conservancy, he helped guide our nonprofit and inspired our work. He was passionate about protecting Fones Cliffs along the Rappahannock River and took part in a 2017 ceremony to return a parcel of land there to the Rappahannock Tribe, made possible by the financial support and generosity of his daughter, Virginia.

“He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. He frequently took the time to call me personally to discuss Chesapeake conservation priorities, sharing stories from his lifetime in politics and governance. These were some of the most memorable conversations of my life, and were invaluable lessons on how to get things done.”blockquote>
During his acceptance speech at the 2016 Champions of the Chesapeake Awards ceremony, Senator Warner said this about Fones Cliffs: “Like many of you, this is a place that I would like to see conserved for future generations. In fact, I told Joel seeing to that would be one of my signature efforts. This is as important to me as my work to get rid of Embry dam, also along the Rappahannock, which robbed many species from being able to migrate upstream. Well, we got that done. Embry dam is gone. And now we’re going to get this done too.”

From Wendy O’Sullivan, Superintendent of the National Park Service Chesapeake Office….

“The NPS Chesapeake family sends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Senator John Warner on his passing.

“Senator Warner was a devoted and powerful champion for the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and was an advocate for national parks and public lands across the Commonwealth of Virginia and around the country.

“Early in my career, I had the great fortune of working closely with Senator Warner on the establishment of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. He was kind, accessible, strategic, and had a wonderful way of sharing stories of his experiences and knowledge that left you feeling as though you’d gained a great gift and wishing to hear more.

“Senator Warner understood the importance of connecting the public to America’s National Parks. In honor of Senator Warner’s commitment to nature, history, heritage and inclusive engagement across communities, the National Park Service named him in 2003 as an honorary National Park Ranger and presented him with a commemorative ranger flat hat. Senator Warner was more than deserving of this is rare and special salute.

“Senator Warner’s passion for nature and history lives on in the many people he inspired and countless places he worked to protect.”

-Virginia Mercury: Sen. John W. Warner: an appreciation – Virginia Mercury by Bob Lewis

-Richmond Times-Dispatch: Schapiro: John Warner, the consummate insider — and outsider | Govt-and-politics |

-Richmond Times-Dispatch: Former Sen. John W. Warner, who led Virginia’s congressional delegation, dies at 94 | Govt-and-politics |

-Associated Press: John Warner dies; former GOP senator was military expert | Ap |

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