Friends, colleagues celebrate life of Sen. Howard Baker Jr.

Friends and colleagues are mourning the death and celebrating the life of Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Henry Baker Jr. after news he passed away Thursday at age 88.

MORE: Howard Baker Jr. passes away at age 88

Throughout his career, Baker has touched many lives and is remembered fondly as a good man whose goal in life was to serve people.

TIMELINE: Life and legacy of Howard Baker Jr.

Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Howard Baker. Howard was many things over the course of his career – from Senate Majority Leader, to White House Chief of Staff, to Ambassador. Yet, it was his ability to broker compromise and his unofficial role as the "Great Conciliator" that won him admirers across party lines, over multiple generations, and beyond the state he called home. Over an 18-year Senate career, Howard fought for the people of Tennessee and helped lead America through difficult times. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Howard's wife Nancy and the entire Baker family.

-- President Barack Obama

"Howard baker was Tennessee's favorite son. He was one of our finest national leaders and for honey and me, he was an indispensable friend.

"Howard was the most persuasive man I ever knew. He was admired by both political parties.

"No one else has had more impact on my life outside my own family than Howard Baker.

"So we honor his life. We will miss him greatly, and he stands as a great example for all of us who are a part of public service."

-- Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

"We have lost one of the greatest public servants Tennessee has ever had, and one of the greatest statesmen this Nation has ever known.

"I have known Senator Baker for most of my life, and he was a real hero to me. I admired and respected him almost as much as my own father.

"Senator Baker served with great honor and distinction in the U.S. Senate, as Chief of Staff for President Reagan, and as Ambassador to Japan. He gave me the privilege to be one of his two witnesses before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of his nomination as ambassador.

"I also had the privilege of introducing and passing the bill to name the federal building in Knoxville after Senator Baker."

-- Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.)

"Our country has lost a great statesman and a great Tennessean. Senator Baker will live on in our hearts forever as a man who believed that government was to serve the people."

-- University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek

"The Baker Center stands as a living legacy to a member of the greatest generation. Senator Howard Baker will always represent what is good about those who serve our country unselfishly. We are honored to carry on his work to create a more civil engagement in our government."

-- Matt Murray, director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy

"Tennessee has lost a hero and a distinguished statesman, and I have lost a friend and mentor.

"Howard Baker made Tennesseans proud, and he taught me an important lesson when I worked for him 35 years ago. Anytime he was sitting across the desk from someone in disagreement, he told himself to keep in mind: You know – the other fellow might be right. Whether at home, in business or in politics, that is always good advice to consider.

"Nancy, Cissy, Derek and his entire family are in Crissy's and my thoughts and prayers."

-- Bill Haslam, governor of Tennessee

"My thoughts and prayers go out to Howard Baker and his family and to Nancy. Tennessee has lost a great statesman. I think the whole state will mourn his passing and he has also been a very personal friend and very impactful on my husband. Bill actually interned with him in Washington, D.C. when he was in college. Howard Baker poured a lot of wisdom into my husband and I appreciate that very much."

-- Crissy Haslam, first lady of Tennessee

"Howard Baker will certainly go down in history as one of Tennessee's greatest, if not its greatest statesman of all time."

-- Jim Haslam, founder of Pilot Corporation

Several Tennessee politicians have also taken to Twitter to express their grievances.


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