CHATTANOOGA (WRCB/AP) – Former Governor Ned McWherter, Tennessee's 46th Governor, has died at age 80.
Ned McWherter, a one-time factory worker who became a millionaire businessman, served as governor from 1987 to 1995 and before as house speaker since 1973.
His administrative assistant, Madelyn Pritchett, says McWherter of Dresden died Monday at a Nashville hospital where he was being treated for cancer.
McWherter was governor from 1987 to 1995, following 20 years in the Legislature, 14 of them leading the House. He also was a political adviser to Bill Clinton during his presidency.
A child of sharecroppers, McWherter became a millionaire through various business enterprises before he was elected governor.
As governor, he supported education improvements that put more computers and technology in classrooms, increased teacher's pay, shrank class sizes and gave local school boards more control.
Governor Haslam released a statement saying, "This is a sad day for Tennessee. Governor McWherter was a true statesman who cared about this state and its citizens. He had a long and distinguished career in the legislative and executive branches as well as in business. I will always be grateful for his personal kindness to me and the wise advice he gave me during my first months in office. Crissy's and my thoughts and prayers go out to Mike and the entire McWherter family during this difficult time."
Senator Alexander also released a brief statement, "When I became governor, Ned McWherter said, 'I'm going to help him, because if he succeeds, our state succeeds.' He was true to his word. That bipartisan spirit symbolized Ned's entire career. He was one of our state's finest public servants and a close friend. I will greatly miss him."