RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — John H. Hager, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who served from 1998 to 2002, has died at the age of 83.
Gov. Ralph Northam ordered state flags to be flown at half staff for 10 days in Hager’s honor following his death Sunday, according to a statement from the governor.
The Republican and former tobacco executive presided over a state Senate that was under GOP control for the first time in more than a century, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
He later served as the top state security assistant to then-Gov. Mark Warner after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, became an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush and was briefly was chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Hager’s son Henry married President George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna in 2008.
Hager, originally from North Carolina, survived contracting polio as an adult and made campaign stops in a wheelchair, news outlets said. He was known to be an avid wheelchair racer.
Warner said in a statement that Hager was able to overcome challenges to serve Virginia.
“John was a great Virginian, who, despite the remarkable obstacles he faced in his personal life, was able to persevere and give back to his community,” the former Democratic governor said.
Northam said Hager “devoted his life to public service.”
“Anyone who worked in Virginia politics quickly learned that John was everywhere, and no one outworked him,” Northam said. “He earned victory and knew defeat, and he kept going. John held fast to his principles, and he knew when to reach across the aisle to compromise. Our country misses his example.”