Former Ohio Governor, U.S. Senator and Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich died early Sunday morning. He was 79.
Voinovich was Cleveland’s last Republican mayor. He served from 1980-1989.
He was also Ohio’s 65th Governor and served in the United States Senate. After his death, politicians quickly sent out statements.
Governor John R. Kasich:
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.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine:
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.”
U.S. Senator Rob Portman:
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.
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish:
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish issued the following statement today to commemorate the life of former City of Cleveland Mayor, Ohio Governor and U.S Senator George Voinovich:
George Voinovich was a devoted, thoughtful and compassionate public servant who gave much of his life working for all of us. After leaving the Senate, even up to recent weeks, he continued to advocate for projects to improve the lives of residents in northeast Ohio. This is a time we need more people like him.
We will all miss him.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson:
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Honorable George Voinovich. He was a uniquely talented leader who served the city of Cleveland selflessly as Governor, Senator, and as a fellow Mayor of Cleveland. He will be missed.
He was a real Clevelander. We did not look at him as a Republican or a Democrat. He was a great man, a good leader and a professional.
Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green):
Marcia and I extend our deepest sympathies to Janet and all the Voinovich family on the passing of former Governor George Voinovich. The Governor dedicated himself to exemplifying what a true public servant was to the people of Ohio and the United States. He will be sorely missed.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH):
Connie and I send our deepest condolences to Janet, their children, the people of Cleveland and everyone touched by George Voinovich’s life of service. George was a man of strong conviction, yet he was always willing to listen to the other side of an argument and put what he believed was best for our state and country ahead of partisan politics.
George was a true public servant who loved the city of Cleveland and the people of Ohio, and his legacy will live on in the lasting contributions he made to our city and our state.
Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11):
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my former colleague, George Voinovich. I send my deepest condolences to the Voinovich family and everyone throughout our state who knew and loved him.
I had the opportunity to get to know Senator Voinovich on our many trips back and forth to Washington. I respected him as a statesman, leader, and public servant. As far back as his days as mayor of the City of Cleveland, he brought a sound and reasoned approach to every discussion. He didn’t make decisions based on partisanship. He believed in doing what was right and wanted to get things done.
Senator Voinovich served this nation and the people of Ohio with honor and distinction. He will be greatly missed.”
Ohio Secretary of State John Husted:
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.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges:
We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Ohio’s favorite son, George Voinovich, this morning. Voinovich served more than 46 years in public office and defined what it means to be a public servant. George Voinovich was a man of integrity who dedicated his life to serving Cleveland and the state of Ohio.
As Mayor, Voinovich saved Cleveland from default and led a comeback campaign for the city. He proficiently governed Ohio and served as a voice of reason in the U.S. Senate. George Voinovich is the most prolific vote-getter in the history of Ohio. Our hearts go out to his wife Janet and their children and grandchildren.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper:
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.”
Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville):
I was deeply saddened to hear today about the passing of George Voinovich. He made a tremendous and lasting impact on this state and the results of his work will be remembered by Ohioans for years to come. His various roles in public service, including as governor, United States senator and mayor of Cleveland, are all examples of steady, thoughtful and honorable leadership. His legacy is something to truly be admired. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Janet, and his family during this difficult time.
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