[Image by David Goldman/AP Images]

Nashville Political Figure John Jay Hooker Jr. Dies From Cancer

Nashville political figure John Jay Hooker Jr., who spent his remaining days fighting to make physician-assisted suicide legal in the state of Tennessee, died Sunday after battling cancer. He was 85-years-old.

Tom Ingram, a political strategist, said he was notified of Hooker’s death by a message that was sent to him by one of the late politician’s daughters. The message said that Hooker died peacefully in a hospice facility surrounded by family, and he was apparently suffering from metastatic melanoma since January of 2015.

“Our family has lost a brilliant and remarkable member whose compassion for those less fortunate and efforts for all humanity will be long remembered,” said Henry Hooker, his brother. “His smile, charm, and love of people brightened our lives. We loved him and will miss him.”

“John Jay Hooker was a man of big ideas, big dreams,” said former Congressman Bob Clement, whose father Frank G. Clement was the governor of the state of Tennessee for 10 years.

Even though Clement was never in public office, he was always an active participant in causes that meant a great deal to him.

John Jay Hooker Jr. was considered to be a legend, especially in regards to Music City politics. According to NewsChannel5, Hooker was a former aide to Robert F. Kennedy and was one of the few people who chose to stay put in Music City.

Hooker always enjoyed being involved in politics ever since he was young. Hooker, who was the son of Nashville lawyer John Jay Hooker Sr., received his degree in the field of law from Vanderbilt University in the 1950s.

In 1970, Hooker won the democratic nomination for governor in the state of Tennessee but ultimately lost in the general election. Even though he didn’t win, Hooker never abandoned his political roots nor the public eye.

Last year, the iconic figure was diagnosed with cancer and was given six months to live. According to the Columbian, Hooker said that the diagnosis ultimately transformed his life, and it was at that point that he decided to pursue the fight for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

Hooker fought tremendously hard to make physician-assisted suicide legal in not only the Legislature but in the court system as well. Unfortunately, that fight turned out to be unsuccessful.

Even though the politician had only months to live, he still continued to fight the illness.

“I’m like a melanoma tree, if you took your hand and ran it through my hair or my arms you’d see all these different melanomas,” he said.

Friends and politicians, including Congressman Steve Cohen, released statements on Hooker’s death.

“John Jay Hooker was Tennessee’s largest political actor for half a century. He thought big and he acted on those thoughts and beliefs. I met him when I was Mr. Commodore in 1969, and he flew me and others to Ann Arbor, Michigan to cheer for the ‘Dores. I became a fan of John Jay and worked on his gubernatorial campaign in 1970 and voiced my support for him again in 2014. You knew John Jay was right on the issues as he was lifetime progressive. We joined together in opposing the Constitutional referendum in 2014 on judicial appointments. He was brilliant, bodacious, and brash. He was John Jay!”

“John Jay Hooker Jr.’s remarkable personality spread a bright light across Tennessee government and politics for a half century. He had friends everywhere. Honey and I will greatly miss his enthusiasm, his sense of purpose and his friendship,” Sen. Lamar Alexander said on Sunday.

“Rest John Jay! You were a giant voice for those of meager means, an inspiration to many and a leader of the cause for justice, fairness and equality,” Nashville attorney David King said. Today you were elected to the kingdom of a great and mighty God! Your voice will be missed but not silenced.”

[Photo by David Goldman/AP]

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