Weldon Markham, 79, a well-known Tennessee Democrat, died Thursday morning at his Chattanooga home after a long battle with emphysema.
A native of Montgomery, Ala., Markham moved to Chattanooga in 1951. From here, Markham was a force in Tennessee Democratic politics for decades.
Markham, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, served on the Tennessee Democratic Party's State Executive Committee.
Thursday, Democrats across the state praised Markham's passion for politics.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, Democratic congressman from Tennessee's 9th district in West Tennessee, said he and Markham met years ago at a Democratic convention. Cohen remembers most that Markham was "an idealistic, caring human being" who "was always thinking of ways to help other people."
Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis said Markham's presence will be missed -- all the way from Tennessee to Washington, D.C.
"Our state and country are fortunate when individuals such as Weldon Markham choose to become involved in the political process," Davis said. "He was someone I could look to for guidance."