Former Speaker and last Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, Billy McCoy, passed away on Tuesday in Tupelo.
The 77 year old former lawmaker had been hospitalized for some time before his death.
McCoy considered himself an “everyone’s man” and was elected unanimously as Speaker in 2004. He was said to have maintained a different approach to politics and opting out of much of the social life that legislature brings private interest. He is well known for his policy work on things like the four-lane highway system.
Many Remember McCoy:
Gov. Phil Bryant:
Sorry to hear of the passing of former Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Billy McCoy. Although we may have differed on issues we were always good friends. He will be missed. Tonight he walks the Streets of Glory.
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) November 13, 2019
Speaker Philip Gunn:
Senator Roger Wicker:
“Billy McCoy has been my friend for 33 years. I always admired him and enjoyed his company. He believed in four-lane highways and public education. And he has a record of accomplishment on these and other important issues. Mississippi has lost a distinguished native son.”
State GOP Chairman Joe Nosef:
Speaker McCoy was a good man. He was always nice and fair to me as a young staffer for @HaleyBarbour & also as chief of staff for then lieutenant governor @PhilBryantMS when we naturally fought on many political issues. He was a fine public servant. https://t.co/mZ3TJDcGOQ
— Joe Nosef (@joenosef) November 13, 2019
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann:
MS House Democratic Caucus:
“Today, we join our fellow Mississippians in honoring and celebrating the life of former Speaker Billy McCoy. We are thankful for his legislative legacy that includes equitable funding for our public schools and a four-lane highway system that links our cities, towns, and communities across the state. Speaker McCoy exemplified the idea that the best public servants retain and reflect the roots that molded them — no matter how exalted their titles.Speaker McCoy always put the best interests of the people of Mississippi first. We thank you, Mr. Speaker. May you rest in eternal peace.”
Saddened to hear of the death of former #SpeakerofMississippi House Billy McCoy. You always knew where Billy stood & he stood for children & better education. Rest In Peace
— Ray Mabus (@SECNAV75) November 13, 2019
Rep. Nick Bain:
Billy McCoy now belongs to the ages! I remember my, telling me how he drove Billy around rural Alcorn County during his first campaign for the state house. Speaker McCoy reminded me every time I saw him that my grandfather was the reason he won that first election. pic.twitter.com/boL9gtn1RW
— Nick Bain (@StateRepBain) November 13, 2019
Sen. David Blount:
One of the greatest public servants in our state’s history. RIP Mr. Speaker. https://t.co/1wyUrTC2DS
— David Blount (@SenDavidBlount) November 13, 2019
Commissioner Brandon Presley:
City of Tupelo:
Commissioner Andy Gipson:
Rep. Joey Grist:
Rep. Toby Barker:
On my very first day in the Mississippi Legislature, I took the first empty chair I saw. Turns out, I – not paying attention to the name plates – accidentally sat between two icons: Rep. Steve Holland and Speaker Billy McCoy, whom I was about to vote against for Speaker…
— Toby Barker (@toby_barker) November 13, 2019
Rep. Steve Holland:
Speaker McCoy was my mentor and my friend. He never let me get off the phone without telling me that he loved me,, even if he intended to call the other Bubba, @randygpiercems. The state of Mississippi lost a great public servant today and NE Mississippi lost a champion. #msleg pic.twitter.com/IY7vXPgB7G
— Bubba Pounds (@bubbapounds) November 13, 2019
According to the Associated Press, McCoy died at Northeast Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, where he had been hospitalized for about two weeks. He is survived by his wife, Edith and their children, Sam and Kim.
Funeral services are 2 p.m. Friday at Gaston Baptist Church near Booneville. The funeral is being handled by Holland Funeral Directors in Tupelo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.