SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Friday was a sad day for Georgia as many mourned the passing of former Georgia Governor Zell Miller, who passed away in the morning hours.
Jared Downs served as Miller's Regional Director for Southeast Georgia during Miller's time in the U.S. Senate. Downs says Miller had a huge impact on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.
"He was instrumental in getting the funding we needed to do the studies that we needed to complete to actually start the project," Downs said.
Miller also led efforts for the HOPE Scholarship and Georgia's Pre-K Program funded by the state lottery. He made sure it was done in a successful way. Today, over three million students have benefited from the programs.
"I was talking to someone and telling them what I did for a living and Miller came, up and they, not knowing Miller or being from Georgia, they said, 'you know, that man single-handedly changed education in this nation," Downs said.
U.S. Representative Buddy Carter says Georgia lost a great leader.
"Remember, he was a Democrat who spoke at a Republican convention. I mean, he was unconventional," Representative Carter said.
Those who knew Miller say he was a leader known for not only serving his party but the people that gave him the opportunity.
"You have to respect somebody that knows who elected him, who put him there, and what they expected him to do," Downs said.
Miller's family says the former governor died peacefully and surrounded by loved ones.