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Hugh M. Gillis Sr., 94, honored as nation’s longest-serving state legislator

FILE- In this May 7 2004 file phoGeorgiSen. Hugh M. Gillis Sr. D-Sopertleft  bangs gavel as Lt. Gov. Mark

FILE- In this May 7, 2004 file photo, Georgia Sen. Hugh M. Gillis, Sr., D-Soperton, left, bangs the gavel as Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, right, looks on during a special session at the Capitol in Atlanta. Former state Sen. Hugh M. Gillis of Soperton, who served more than 50 years in the Georgia General Assembly, has died. He was 94. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, File)

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Updated: February 5, 2013 6:39AM



SOPERTON, Ga. — Former state Sen. Hugh M. Gillis of Soperton, who was once honored as the longest-serving state legislator in the country with more than 50 years in the General Assembly, has died. He was 94.

Mr. Gillis died Tuesday at Meadows Regional Hospital in Vidalia with his family by his side, according to Sammons Funeral Home in Soperton. The funeral home was handling arrangements.

In 2001, the Democratic lawmaker was honored by the National Conference of State Legislators as the longest-serving state legislator in the country. He served in the state Senate continuously from 1962 until his retirement in 2004. He had previously served for 12 years in the Georgia House.

If he had not retired, Mr. Gillis would have faced state Sen. Jack Hill of Reidsville after the boundaries of the district changed through redistricting. Gillis, in a 2004 interview with The Courier Herald, said that in addition to the work of learning a new district, friendship played a part in his decision.

“I didn’t want to run against a good friend,” Mr. Gillis said of Hill.

Hill said Mr. Gillis was known for working hard for his district.

“To me, he will always be a great friend,” Hill told the Courier Herald. “His service transcends so many huge events. There was not an event or a result that Sen. Gillis wasn’t a part of. The state made tremendous progress because of his vision.

“He just optimized public service,” Hill added, “and he won’t be replaced or forgotten anytime.” AP



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