By TN Tribune Staff
Former 2-term Republican Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist died Sunday. He was 87.
Today, at the Sundquist family’s request, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s office shared that Governor Don Sundquist passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, following surgery and a short illness.
Born in Moline, Illinois on March 15, 1936, Sundquist was a graduate of Augustana College. He went on to serve in the United States Navy. After years in the printing and advertising industry in Shelbyville and Memphis, he was elected to Congress, representing Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District. Sundquist served six terms in Congress, and was on the Ways and Means Committee, where he earned the reputation as a staunch fiscal conservative.
He was elected Governor of Tennessee in 1994, and overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term in 1998. Under his leadership, Tennessee implemented a ground-breaking welfare reform program, comprehensive crime legislation focusing on victims’ rights, and set record levels of economic development. His administration was instrumental in bringing two national sports franchises, the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators, to the state.
“We are comforted by our faith and friends, and know he is with our Lord and loved ones in heaven,” said former First Lady Martha Sundquist.
“Governor Sundquist was an impactful leader and principled statesman who devoted his life to public service,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “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.”
Governor Sundquist was guided by a profound faith in God’s providence and dogged belief in the promise of America and the greatness of Tennessee. He took great pride in bringing people together, regardless of differences, to work together for the common good. He is survived by former First Lady Martha Sundquist, his wife of 64 years, and their children: Andrea, Tania (David), and Deke; and beloved granddaughters: Gabby (Markos), and Alex.
Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9) issued the following statement today on the passing of Don Sundquist, the former U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District.
“I was a State Senator for the eight years that Don Sundquist served as Governor of Tennessee, and we had a very fine relationship,” said Congressman Cohen. “I respected him and developed a friendship, unlike many others with whom I served. We had the ability to find common ground on important issues, such as the public voting on the state lottery, tax benefits that helped with the funding of AutoZone Park, a wildflower program along our interstate highway system, as well as a 70 miles-per-hour interstate speed limit.
“Don Sundquist was a man of his word who never forgot Memphis. He had a most decent and professional staff, and a loving and caring wife and good kids. He was a man of good character and moral rectitude, and his was a life well lived.”
Funeral arrangements are pending. The family’s point of contact is Elizabeth Phillips, firstname.lastname@example.org.