SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The life of Georgia's 79th governor, Zell Miller, is being celebrated this week by his family, friends, and all whose lives he impacted in his more than half decade of public service.
Miller, who served as governor of Georgia from 1991 to 1999, died last week, leaving a rich legacy for the state and nation.
Miller started his political career as mayor of his hometown, Young Harris, in 1959. Two years later he was elected to the Georgia State Senate.
In 1975, Miller became lieutenant governor of Georgia a post he would hold for 16 years, the longest anyone has ever served the state in that capacity.
His last political title was that of U.S. Senator when then Governor Roy Barnes appointed Miller to a U.S. Senate seat following the death of Republican Senator Paul Coverdale in July of 2000.
Consider this: Miller will long be remembered as the governor who created the Hope Scholarship and Georgia's Pre-K program, all funded by the lottery.
Today, more than 1.8 million students have gone to college in Georgia on HOPE Scholarships and more than 1.6 million four-year-olds started their education through Georgia's Pre-K Program.
These programs were not just groundbreaking in Georgia, but also in the United States, and were his proudest achievements in his 46-year career in public service.
Here in Savannah, Miller had a huge impact on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. During his time in the U.S. Senate, he was instrumental in securing funding for both impact studies and the project itself.
Miller, a lifelong Democrat, is the only American to have delivered the keynote address at both a Democratic and Republican national convention. He did it for Clinton in 1992 and Bush in 2004.
We are grateful to Zell Miller for his passion and commitment to our state and nation and for impacting so many lives in the past, the present and the future.