NBC29, ALANA AUSTIN
Loved ones and friends of the late Virginia Senator John Warner gathered for his funeral Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.
Warner died of a heart condition last month at age 94. He represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 2009. He also served as Secretary of the Navy and was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.
Virginia lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and President Joe Biden mourned his loss. Friends say will be remembered as a true statesman who transcended partisan politics.
“While we represented different political parties, I can say without hesitation, John was a man of conscience, character and honor,” said President Joe Biden at the funeral.
Warner spent the majority of his life in leadership roles, from serving in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, to specializing in military affairs on Capitol Hill as chair of the Senate Armed Services committee.
“When John endorsed me, it gave me confidence, not about winning, about being able to do the job. John gave me confidence. You know, in the battle for the soul of America today, John Warner is a reminder of what we can do when we come together as one nation,” said Biden, during his eulogy.
Warner – a Republican – also earned the respect and trust of his successor, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner – no relation. At Wednesday’s funeral, he paid tribute to the man who evolved from political rival, to cherished friend.
“His passing is a passing hopefully not of an era but his message that you’ve got to put country and commonwealth first,” said Sen. Mark Warner. “When I think about many of the issues that I grapple with, I often think what would John Warner do?”
Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) also admired Warner and attended the funeral.
“John Warner was dedicated to serving his commonwealth and his country. A grateful nation recalls his decades of faithful, diligent public service. A titan of Virginia politics, he was unrelenting in his efforts to provide for the national security of the United States. He will be greatly missed, and Elizabeth and I offer our deepest sympathies to his family,” said Cline.
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) was unable to attend the funeral but expressed his sentiments to honor Warner’s life and legacy.
“Today, the Commonwealth of Virginia lays to rest one of its finest statesmen. Though he has passed, his legacy for civility and passion for public service live on, embodied by today’s leaders for whom John Warner served as example of genuine servant leadership. I was fortunate enough to serve alongside Senator Warner, during which time he became both a mentor and a friend. I will miss him dearly,” said Wittman.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) appreciated that long after Warner’s retirement, he continued enthusiastically mentoring.
“He would say, ‘Oh no, put me to work! Put me to work!’ And so that feisty spirit and that focus on working was very clear,” said Spanberger.
Warner also started the tradition of bringing together the Virginia congressional delegation every month over lunch to discuss policy issues, something lawmakers say remains a sign of enduring commitment to bipartisanship.
Warner is survived by his wife, three children and two grandsons.