The Last Gentleman: Sen. John Warner 


Five-term Republican Senator from Virginia, John Warner, 94, passed away Monday at his home in Alexandria, due to a heart problem.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Warner attended St. Albans School and Woodrow Wilson High School. In the final year of the Second World War and shortly before his 18th birthday in 1945, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Following the war, he attended Washington and Lee University and later the University of Virginia Law School. After the Korean War broke out in 1950, Warner served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was elected U.S. Senator from Virginia in 1978 and served until 2008.

He was former secretary of the Navy and was often sought for his authority on military matters.

Warner also brought a bit of gossip and glam to the District when he spent six years married to Elizabeth Taylor (who referred to herself at the time as “a housewife from a small town in Virginia…”) Warner was first married to heiress Catherine Mellon of the Mellon Bank fortune.

At one time, Warner and his second wife Elizabeth Taylor lived in Georgetown, on the 3200 block of S Street. Martin’s Tavern posted on their Instagram page a tribute to the senator, saying “goodbye to a longtime friend of the tavern.” They included a photo of Warner at his birthday party last year waving jubilantly with a Martin’s Tavern baseball cap on his head.

Warner was one of those lawmakers who moved easily through all parts of Washington, especially Georgetown, like that of Sen. Charles Percy or Sen. Claiborne Pell. Years ago, Warner was the first recipient of “You Take the Cake,” a prize from The Georgetowner that one did not want to win.

Other social media tributes poured in. The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria called Warner “a great friend to the Torpedo Factory Art Center and instrumental in its founding” on their Instagram page. Documentary photographer Stephen Crowley also posted a paragraph titled “A Life Well-Lived” on Instagram.

Warner was from another age, where he understood the art of compromise, often being the Republican many Virginia independents and Democrats respected. He retired a dozen years ago with the honor of being the second-longest tenured senator from Virginia. Early in his time in the Senate, he said he had little interest in protocol and tradition, saying “We’ve got big problems” and he “can’t let protocol or tradition stand in the way.”

While he did appreciate compromise, Warner was still opinionated—even into his retirement. The Washington Post reported that while in retirement, at a climate change conference, Warner linked the issue with national security and energy independence. He was quoted as saying if Congress didn’t enact climate change legislation, “China and India and the rest of the nations in the world are going to eat our lunch.”

Warner was a trustee of the National Symphony and was a surprisingly good party planner, putting together the country’s 200th birthday on July 4, 1976.

He is survived by his third wife Jeanne Vander Myde. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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