Former Republican Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist Dies At 87

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A former Republican governor who also served 12 years as a U.S. congressman died Sunday at the age of 87, according to a family spokesperson.

Don Sundquist, who served two terms as governor of Tennessee and spent 12 years representing the state in Congress, “passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, following surgery and a short illness,” Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced at the request of Sundquist’s family.

Elected governor in 1994, Sundquist was “overwhelmingly” reelected for a second term in 1998 after implementing a “ground-breaking” welfare reform program and crime legislation that underscored victims’ rights. Sundquist also “set record levels of economic development,” according to the press release. Two national sports franchises — the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators — came to the state under Sundquist’s leadership.

“Governor Sundquist was an impactful leader and principled statesman who devoted his life to public service,” Lee said. “As Tennessee’s governor for two terms, he contributed to our state’s legacy of fiscal responsibility and expanded opportunity for Tennesseans through historic economic development. Maria and I join all Tennesseans in honoring Governor Sundquist’s remarkable life, and we pray God’s comfort over Martha and their family in the days ahead.” (RELATED: Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn Dies Of Cancer At Age 59, Wife Says)

Sundquist was remembered as a man led by a “profound faith in God’s providence” as well as a “dogged belief in the promise of America and the greatness of Tennessee.” The former governor “took great pride” in bringing people together regardless of differences to work towards a common good, according to the press release.

Sundquist is survived by his wife of 64 years, Martha, and their three children and two grandchildren.