ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — After more than half a century in public service and a longtime battle with cancer, former Maryland Senate President Mike Miller announced Wednesday he is retiring.

“My heart and my mind remain strong, but my body has grown too weak to meet the demands of another legislative session,” he wrote.

He announced his retirement in a letter to Senate President Bill Ferguson.

The longtime senator for Prince George’s County and southern Maryland served as the senate president for 33 years before he stepped down from his leadership position last year.

His colleagues created the title of Senate president emeritus when he stepped down.

He said he prays that future generations in the Maryland General Assembly will continue to come together “in the spirit of public service and unity to once again get to work on behalf of the citizens of the great State of Maryland.”

Gov. Larry Hogan said he was aware Miller had made this decision to step down.

“On behalf of a grateful state, I want to thank my good friend Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller for 50 incredible years of service to the people of Maryland. Over the weekend, I spoke to President Miller as he prepared to make this difficult announcement. It was a deeply personal and heartfelt conversation, as ours have always been. I have known Mike since I was a kid, and it has been one of my greatest privileges as governor to serve alongside him. He will go down in our state’s history as a lion of the Senate. The First Lady and I ask all Marylanders to join us in praying for Mike and his family.”

The Maryland Democratic Party released a statement later Wednesday, calling Miller a “titan of Maryland.”

“Senator Mike Miller is a titan of Maryland. In his five decades of service to our state — including 33 as Senate President — he fought for everyday Marylanders, improving the lives of so many through progressive, yet always pragmatic, policies. We wish Senator Miller good health going forward, and hope he enjoys his well-earned retirement. The people of Maryland are forever indebted for his service.”

The Maryland Republican Party also released a statement on Twitter. The party said he was a “moderating influence” and that there will be a “void on the Senate floor.”

CBS Baltimore Staff