Former Senator Bob Dearing has passed away at the age of 85 on Thursday.

The Natchez resident served in the Mississippi Legislature for 36 years, after he was first elected in 1979 and served until 2011 when he was defeated by Melanie Sojourner. He later challenged her for the seat again until his retirement in 2019.

Once he announced his retirement, Sojourner ran again for the seat and currently holds it.

According to the Natchez Democrat, he was born in Natchez in 1935 and was the son of Weenonah Montgomery and Robert V. Dearing. He was married to Shelley Paige Ditzler Dearing and had three children.

“Being patient was one of his best qualities,” Daye told the publication. “He was honest, straightforward and a man of his word.”

Dearing served as a Sunday School teacher for First Presbyterian Church and his children said that faith played a vital role in his life.

Former Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell called Dearing a “tireless warrior for Natchez and Adams County.”

“To me he was truly the example of a senator,” Grennell said. “He was a soft-spoken gentleman at times and when it was time to be aggressive, when he was fighting for something for citizens of Adams County, his whole personality would change because he was so dynamic and so hardworking for the citizens of Adams County and other areas that he represented.”

Dearing was a graduate of Natchez Public Schools and attended Delta State Teachers College from 1953 until 1957. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in education. He taught at Natchez public school from ’58 until ’64.  He later attended and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1965 with masters in school administration. He went on to become an elementary principal fro the Natchez public schools from 1965 to 1966.