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Bipartisan Politicians Packed the Pews for Jan. 6 Isakson Memorial

January 7, 2022 by Kate Michael
Bipartisan Politicians Packed the Pews for Jan. 6 Isakson Memorial

ATLANTA — Many of those not taking part in Jan. 6 proceedings on Capitol Hill were instead coming together in the spirit of commemoration to honor the late Sen. Johnny Isakson at his memorial in Atlanta on Thursday. 

Pews at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church were packed with friends and admirers to celebrate the life of Isakson, who passed just days from his 77th birthday. Among those were Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had signaled in advance that he would not be staying in Washington, but rather choosing to eulogize his respected former colleague. 

“You know, in the Senate, a lot comes down to attendance… It’s about who shows up,” McConnell said at the memorial. 

“I haven’t seen this big or bipartisan a group of senators together off the floor since September. So what happened in September you’re wondering? The annual Johnny Isakson barbecue lunch was restarted in his honor.

“Two years before that, when Johnny gave his farewell speech, the chamber was packed with Republicans, Democrats, and staff like I hadn’t seen since Bob Dole left the Senate in 1996.

“Now, we all know this is a polarized time. Unity is in short supply. But the gigantic and diverse Johnny Isakson fan club has never failed to pack a room.”

Isakson was also honored in special tributes from his children and neighbors as well as eulogized by his former Georgia Senate colleague Saxby Chambliss. Senate chaplain and Isakson “prayer partner” Barry Black provided the poignant scriptural message; folk-duo Banks and Shane added heart-warming music throughout the program.

Among those in attendance with McConnell and Chambliss were Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (former Isakson chief of staff), Sen. Ted Cruz, and Sen. Raphael Warnock (currently holding Isakson’s Senate seat).

Isakson, a moderate Republican lauded as a savvy legislator and bridge-builder, retired from the Senate in 2019 as a result of his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. According to Chambliss, he may be the only politician to have served in both his State House and Senate as well as both the U.S. House and Senate, with a career in public office spanning over four decades. 

Isakson’s legacy lives on in the Isakson Initiative, a research non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funding for neurocognitive diseases.

Kate can be reached at kate@thewellnews.com

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