Former House Democratic leader DuBose Porter sends word that Hugh Gillis, who before his retirement had become the longest-serving member of the General Assembly, has died.
For decades stretching back to the Great Depression, the Gillis family epitomized rural power in Georgia. Hugh Gill’s father headed up the state’s road-building authority. Hugh Gillis served 56 years in the Legislature – first in the House and then in the Senate. It was a career that began when Democrats, led by Eugene Talmadge, ruled the state, and ended in 2004 after the Republican era spear-headed by Sonny Perdue.
From the entry in the Georgia Encyclopedia, which puts Gillis’ birth in 1918 – which would have made him 94 at his death:
Gillis first served in the House of Representatives from 1941 through 1944, then served eight more years from 1949 to 1956. “When I first came in ‘41, I was right out of college,” he said. “Back then the governor ran most everything and if you didn’t agree with the governor’s program, you were on the outside looking in. I found out right quick that was not the thing to do.” He served a two-year senate term for 1957-58, then was reelected to the senate in 1962—winning a legislative seat he would hold for the next forty-two years.
…Gillis is the only lawmaker who voted on both landmark bills to change the state flag—in 1956, when the Confederate battle emblem was added to the design, and in 2001, when the Confederate version of the flag was replaced by the blue version. He voted both times in favor of the Confederate version of the flag.
Porter said that Gillis’ health had been good until lately. But he confirmed something that former Gov. Zell Miller had mentioned a few months ago – that a bout with shingles had robbed the former Senate president pro tem of his sight.
A full obituary, with funeral details, can be found here.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider