ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., the former President of the Maryland Senate, died Friday afternoon, his family said. He was 78.

Miller retired last month after more than four decades as a state senator. At the time, he cited his health, including a longtime battle with cancer, as a reason.

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He announced his prostate cancer diagnosis on the Senate floor in early 2019.

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The Clinton, Maryland, native took office in 1975 representing Prince George’s County and became senate president in 1987.

He stepped down from the leadership role just over a year ago but continued to represent portions of Calvert, Charles and Prince George’s counties in Annapolis.

Miller’s family said he died at home at 4:25 p.m. with his loved ones at his side. He is survived by his wife, children, eight siblings and 15 grandchildren.

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In a statement, current Senate President Bill Ferguson called Miller a “champion of the Senate”:

“It is impossible to think of the Maryland Senate and not think of Mike – not just because of his historical longevity – but because each member of the Senate has his or her own Mike story. Whether it’s the Senator who he quietly consoled through family matters, the Senator who he mentored to compromise and pass legislation, or those who experienced the personal care of Mike to truly listen to their concerns. There are thousands of former Senators, Delegates, staffers, and constituents in the 27th District that he has impacted for the better, and who each have their own Mike Miller story. I expect we’ll hear many of them in the days and weeks ahead, and I hope the public will listen and get a glimpse of the impact Mike made.”

The Maryland Democratic Party also issued a statement Friday evening:

“These past months have been filled with difficult losses, but the passing of longtime Senate President Mike Miller is one of the most heartbreaking. Miller was a titan of Maryland. In his five decades of service to our state — including thirty-three as Senate President — he fought for everyday Marylanders, improving the lives of so many through progressive, yet always pragmatic, policies. Our hearts go out to his family — we offer our deepest condolences. The people of Maryland are forever indebted for his service.”

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin issued the following statement:

“It will take time for me to process that we have really lost Mike Miller. He was a Maryland institution, as the longest-serving Senate president in our state’s history. But even more, he was a cherished friend. Our lives were intertwined, starting with our days together at the University of Maryland Law School and then serving together in the Maryland General Assembly. Myrna and I were privileged to have him in our lives for all these years. He was larger than life, a good friend, a good man who loved his family and community and an incredible public servant who dedicated himself to his beloved Maryland. Our hearts ache for Patti and his family at this immensely difficult time. May his memory be a blessing.”

Gov. Larry Hogan called Miller “a dear lifelong friend.”

“Serving the people of our great state was Mike Miller’s life’s work, and he did so with unrelenting passion and courage for a remarkable 50 years,” Hogan said. “Even as he waged a hard-fought battle with cancer, I was blessed to continue to benefit from Mike’s wisdom and trademark humor. He was, in every sense, a lion of the Senate.”

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State flags will be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day Miller is laid to rest, Hogan said.

CBS Baltimore Staff