ATLANTA - Former Georgia governor and U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, will be retiring from public life as he battles Parkinson’s disease. Miller’s family made the announcement Wednesday morning, asking for prayers.
The former governor will retire in the north Georgia mountains, where he was born.
His friends told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot that Miller has left a legacy the state won’t soon forget.
Miller was a college professor, a U.S. Marine and for 40 years one of the most influential politicians in Georgia history -- rising from a mayor to a state lawmaker to lieutenant governor to governor to U.S. senator.
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"He was a political hero of mine. He and I come from the same kind of tradition up here in the mountains,” current Georgia House Speaker David Ralston told Elliot.
Ralston believes the HOPE Scholarship is Miller’s greatest achievement - one that still impacts the state.
“HOPE mattered in the lives of so many Georgia families. It still matters in their lives. And so touching that many lives is, I don’t know what could be greater than that,” Ralston said.
Former Gov. Miller's grandson: "I think Georgians can be comforted by the fact that if anyone can deal with Parkinson's...it's Zell Miller." pic.twitter.com/rbJMxkYmvr— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) October 18, 2017
Elliot also spoke will Miller’s grandson, Bryan, who said he and his family created the Miller Institute Foundation an organization to preserve the former governor’s legacy and to help mold future Georgia leaders.
“If anybody can handle Parkinson’s, it’s Zell Miller,” Bryan Miller told Elliot. “I don’t think we’re going to see to many people like Zell Miller in the future, and so what I want to do his preserve his legacy, the accomplishments, the record, but also to promote and educate the public about the man.”
Bryan Miller also told Elliot that the HOPE Scholarship helped move the state forward as well.
“I think it’s one of the reasons so many Fortune 500s are relocating and opening up offices in Georgia. It’s something that we in family are very proud of,” Bryan Miller said.
“Zell’s tough. He has had a fantastic career, and I think Georgians can be comforted by the fact that if there’s anybody who can deal with Parkinson’s and address it head on, it’s Zell Miller,” Bryan Miller said.
Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement:
“Zell’s public service record and accomplishments are countless. He is a statesman, a humble servant, a proud Georgian, an honorable man and my good friend. His legacy is one of which we are all proud.”
“Know the early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease and how to spot them in yourself or in someone you love. Early diagnosis and expert care can improve quality of life for someone living with the disease. The Parkinson’s Foundation is here to help. Call 1-800-4PD-INFO or visit www.parkinson.org to learn more," the foundation said.