McWherter, former governor, House speaker, dies

McWherter, former governor, House speaker, dies

April 4th, 2011 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

In this file photo, former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter campaigns for then-candidate Phil Bredesen at the TriCities Airport in Blountville, Tenn., Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2002. (AP Photo/ Earl Neikirk)

By JOE EDWARDS, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Ned McWherter, a one-time factory worker who became a millionaire businessman, speaker of the state House and then a two-term Democratic governor, has died at the age 80.

His administrative assistant, Madelyn Pritchett, says McWherter of Dresden died Monday at a Nashville hospital where he was being treated for cancer.

McWherter was governor from 1987 to 1995, following 20 years in the Legislature, 14 of them leading the House. He also was a political adviser to Bill Clinton during his presidency.

A child of sharecroppers, McWherter became a millionaire through various business enterprises before he was elected governor.

As governor, he supported education improvements that put more computers and technology in classrooms, increased teacher's pay, shrank class sizes and gave local school boards more control.