Zell Miller, Former Georgia Politician, Dead


: Zell Miller, the Georgia politician whose name many students might recognize for his work in creating the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships, passed away on March 23 at the age of 86. (photo credit: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M001141)

Emily Stocksdale, Literature Editor

Zell Miller, whose name many Georgia students instantly recognize in relation to the scholarship named after him, passed away on March 23 at the age of 86 due to complications caused by Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his wife, Shirley Carvey, who he married in 1954, and two sons. A funeral service was held for him the following Tuesday and was attended by three former presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Formerly a Georgia governor and U.S. Senator, Miller was an extremely important figure in Georgia politics. One of his major accomplishments was helping to create the HOPE Scholarship, which provides money to pay for part of the college tuition of “Georgia residents who have demonstrated academic achievement,” according to GA Futures.


Miller was born in Young Harris, Georgia. Throughout his political career he was considered highly unpredictable because while he was a conservative Democrat his entire life, he would often side with Republicans when voting because he disagreed with his own party. He mourned that the Democratic Party had lost sight of past ideals, but refused to switch parties, even as he often advocated for Republican law reform suggestions. By the end of his life, he supported both Democratic and Republican political candidates indiscriminately.


One of Miller’s first jobs in government was as Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. He was elected to the position in 1974 and was the longest-serving lieutenant governor in the state’s history. By 1990, after numerous failed attempts to serve in the U.S. Senate and other government positions, Miller was elected as governor, where he continued to serve the state until he left in 1999. During his time as governor, he endorsed Bill Clinton for presidency and pushed legislation to support public education. Miller spent several years as a professor at several Georgia colleges before he was appointed to the U.S. Senate in a 2000 special election.


The HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships, which Miller helped to create, are a lasting testament to his impact in Georgia politics. Because of his work, Georgia students who meet rigor and GPA requirements can receive financial aid for college. In addition, he will be remembered as an influential politician who always voted towards what he believed was right, regardless of which political party he may have been supporting at the time. It is truly unfortunate to have lost such a person.