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Former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist dies at 87

Don Sundquist served two terms as Tennessee's governor from 1995-2003. After leaving politics, his family moved to Townsend to live a quiet life in the Smokies.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Don Sundquist, former Tennessee congressman and two-term governor, has died at age 87, friends confirmed on Sunday.

The Illinois native had been in declining health in recent months. A former East Tennessee resident, he and his wife Martha had moved to the Memphis area in recent years.

The Republican Sundquist served as governor from 1995-2003.

Credit: Tennessee State House Collection

Before that, he'd been a six-term congressman starting in the early 1980s from the Memphis area.

Sundquist had a reputation as a conservative but soon after getting elected to his second term, he proposed tax reform measures that drew quick criticism. Seeking more revenue for the state, he proposed what amounted to an income tax, something most state politicians are loathe to discuss.

It sparked protests and left a mark on his term as governor.

While in office, he also pushed for welfare reform, and Tennessee offered universal health insurance, according to the National Governors Association. Sundquist also was a major booster of economic development for the state.

Credit: AP
Gov. Don Sundquist, center, his wife, Martha, left, before Gov.-elect Bill Lee's inauguration on Jan. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

After leaving politics in Nashville, the Sundquists moved to Townsend, where he enjoyed golf and they enjoyed frequent hikes in the Smokies and surrounding countryside.

Political friends and acquaintances paid tribute on social media to Sundquist upon word of his death.

He will lie in the state in the Rotunda of the Tennessee State Capitol on Sept. 5, from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. Central Time. Funeral services will be held at the Lutheran Evangelical Church, in Nashville, at 11 a.m. the same day.

Sundquist will also be interred in Townsend, where hand and his wife used to live.

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