Political leaders of all stripes were saddened to learn of the death of longtime Mayor, Governor and U.S. Senator George Voinovich, who passed away in his sleep last night. Voinovich was 79. He retired from the U.S. Senate following the end of his term in 2010, but remained active in political circles and was a strong advocate for policies effecting fiscal responsibility and foreign policy directed at the Balkan states, reflecting his cherished Slovenian heritage and even served as a speaker at an event marking the 25th anniversary of Slovenia independence at Cleveland City Hall.
At a news conference on his retirement, and in his final remarks on the Senate floor, Voinovich continued to implore both sides of the political aisle to come together on agreement of issues most important to the responsible running of the country. He maintained his strong spiritual faith throughout his career, and made no bones about his feelings that God, family and public service were his highest priorities. (Video from C-SPAN)
Reaction was swift on news of Voinovich's death.
Governor John R. Kasich released the following statement on the passing of former Ohio senator, governor and Cleveland mayor George V. Voinovich:
"I am very saddened today by the passing of my friend George Voinovich. I respected him greatly and had a deep affection for him. His love for our state and his hometown of Cleveland was only surpassed by his love for his family and his wife Janet. He was guided by two ideas: love God and love your neighbor, and by faithfully applying them throughout his life he helped Ohioans see how much they could accomplish by working together.
"He was a unifier who thought outside the box, never gave up and worked hard for the ideas he believed in up until the very end of his life. Thanks to that leadership he saved Cleveland, governed Ohio compassionately and responsibly and was a candid voice for reason in the U.S. Senate. I am proud to have known him and grateful for what he did for our state and nation.
"To his wife Janet, his children and his many grandchildren, my family sends our condolences and heartfelt prayers at this difficult time, and on behalf of Ohio I send my gratitude for sharing this wonderful, dynamic man with us for so many years."
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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on the death today of former U.S. Senator and Governor George V. Voinovich.
"Fran and I are heartbroken by the news of George's death. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife Janet, their children, and their grandchildren.
"George Voinovich was a good person -- a good man. He was a man of deep religious faith, and it was that faith that guided him in his decisions. He truly lived his belief that with God, all things are possible.
"He believed that his calling was to serve others -- his city, community, and country -- through his work in government. He also believed that everyone had God-given gifts, and that we all need to use our gifts to help others. He often talked about his mother, Josephine, who volunteered at the library at St. Aloysius well into her 80s to serve the children there.
"George was a mentor to me, but he was also my friend. I was honored to serve as his Lieutenant Governor and had the great opportunity to watch him lead and see first-hand his management skills.
"He was a tireless worker. George took home work every night and on the weekends. His administrative style and philosophy were to hire good people, hold them accountable, but let them run their departments.
"George was the long-time mayor of Cleveland -- a city kid, but he loved the Ohio State Fair! He loved being with the 4-H kids, working the bidders at the Sale of Champions, staying overnight with a farm family, and being a part of Ohio's great agriculture community. After he left the Governor's Office, he would continue to come to the Ohio State Fair with grandkids every summer. He was so proud of the Voinovich Livestock and Trade Center on the Fairgrounds.
"George took great pride in sharing Ohio's unique places with others. He had a passion for promoting Ohio tourism -- from the banks of the Ohio River to the shores of Lake Erie. He loved our state.
"George and Janet had a true partnership. They were best friends, and she was everything to him. He would often say that Janet was God's greatest gift to him.
"He loved his family fiercely and nothing mattered to him more -- nothing. He would get so excited talking about his grandkids, especially.
"Ohio lost a true leader, visionary, and statesman today."
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U.S. Senator Rob Portman issued the following statement today on the passing of George Voinovich:
"Jane and I are deeply saddened by this news. All Ohioans have suffered a great loss today.
"As Mayor, as Governor, and as Senator, George Voinovich exemplified everything good about public service. It was never about him, but always about helping others. He was an independent voice who never hesitated to speak his mind.
"The City of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and the nation benefited from his extraordinary service, but he had a special place in his heart for his beloved Cleveland. It is not an exaggeration to say he personally saved the city from default and revived the spirit of Cleveland through sheer force of will, an unyielding work ethic and an infectious optimism. There are so many signs of his contributions to Cleveland and the state of Ohio, from the Voinovich innerbelt bridge to the Voinovich Bicentennial Park to the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University, to community treasures like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that would not be here but for his leadership. These are all a testament to the love and respect that the people of Ohio had for him. But as in all of his public service roles, his intangible contribution was to lift peoples' hopes.
"In our conversations, for all of his political successes and accomplishments, what George Voinovich most wanted to talk about was family. Janet was his soulmate and partner in everything, and he loved his kids and grandkids and always wanted to know about my family. He knew family and faith were the anchors for everything else in life.
"I will miss a great friend and a true mentor, and our community will mourn the loss of a dedicated public servant without equal."
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Congressman Tim Ryan made the following statement regarding the passing of former Ohio Governor and Senator George Voinovich:
"I extend my deepest sympathies to the family of George Voinovich. Former Governor and Senator Voinovich served our state with great distinction all his life. He was a consummate professional who always conducted himself with class and independent leadership. He will be missed."
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Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today released the following statement on the death of former United States Senator and Ohio Governor George Voinovich:
"For over four decades, George Voinovich faithfully served the people of Ohio from Cleveland's City Hall, to the steps of the Statehouse and on our behalf in the U.S. Capitol.
"So often, he spoke of his work in terms of the impact it may have on our children and the future they would one day inherit. It was that vision that guided his work and that example we all seek to carry out even today.
"He was known for never taking advantage of his office, but instead, was frugal with the public's resources as if they were his own. He stood on principle, even when that stand risked his own popularity. In this way, he was a great man of principle and a true public servant. His death is Ohio's loss.
"The thoughts and prayers of a grateful state are with his family today."
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The Ohio Democratic Party released the following statement from Chairman David Pepper on the passing of former Cleveland Mayor, Ohio Gov. and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich:
"Today we mourn the passing of an Ohio giant, George Voinovich, a man who dedicated more than half of his life in service to the people of the Buckeye State. When I was a local elected official, I had the privilege of escorting then-Senator Voinovich on a tour of Cincinnati, and it was clear he was still a mayor at heart. He didn't miss a detail, and that's what a great public servant does -- focuses on the details and brings people together to find solutions. Our thoughts and prayers are with George's wife, Janet, his beloved children and grandchildren and our colleagues at the Ohio Republican Party, as we grieve the loss of a great Ohioan."