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Former Sen. Thurmond Passes at Age 100

Retired Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), the longest serving lawmaker in the chamber’s history, died Thursday night. He was 100.

The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms is currently working to make travel arrangements for Senators to attend the memorial service.

The South Carolina Republican made history in 1957 when he filibustered civil rights legislation, holding the floor for 24 hours and 18 minutes. In 1997, Thurmond made history again when he became the chamber’s longest serving Senator.

“Many of us have had — just about all of us in this body have had the real privilege of serving alongside Strom Thurmond,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said in announcing Thurmond’s passing last night. “Longtime friend Hortense Woodson once said of him, ‘Everything he’s done has been to the full. There’s no halfway doings about Strom.’ Indeed, Strom Thurmond will forever be a symbol of what one person can accomplish when they live life as we all know he did to the fullest,” Frist continued.

Thurmond retired in 2002 and moved to his hometown of Edgefield, S.C., earlier this year. A Democrat-turned-Republican, Thurmond was elected to the Senate as a write-in candidate in 1954. Six years earlier he won 39 electoral votes while seeking the White House on the Dixiecrat ticket.

Thurmond stepped down in 2002, after serving eight terms. His health rapidly declined in recent years and in the final months of his Senate term, Thurmond took up residence in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. and relied on a wheelchair in the final months of his term.

The Senate temporarily suspended work on the massive Medicare bill Thursday night when news of his death reached the chamber. Upon learning of his death, Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) said of Thurmond, “a giant oak in [the] forest of public service has fallen.”

“Even though we ended up on other sides of the aisle, there was never any doubt about the interest of South Carolina,” Hollings said in a speech on the floor.

Senators will give testimonials to Thurmond during today’s session.

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