Former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton has died. He was 98 years old.
Holton, a Republican, served as Virginia's 61st governor from 1970 to 1974.
Holton's death was confirmed by his son-in-law, current Sen. Tim Kaine's office Thursday evening.
“I mourn the loss of my father-in-law Linwood Holton. He was more than a father-in-law — he was my friend and my public service role model," Kaine said in a statement. "His courageous efforts to end racial discrimination in Virginia, born out of a deep religious conviction about the equality of all God’s children, made him a moral pillar for so many. Lin and Jinks have been the key inspiration for my wife Anne’s public service career.
“Lin was also a magnificent grandfather. I will always be thankful for his role in my life.”
Current Gov. Ralph Northam also released a statement on the former governor's death and called for flags across the state to be flown at half-mast in his honor.
“Linwood Holton changed what it means to serve as Governor of Virginia. He knew defeat at the ballot box before victory—and when he won, he made every moment count.
“If you want to know what American strength looks like, look at the famous photographs of Governor Holton—smiling, as he walked his children to Richmond’s public schools during the tensest moments of desegregation. He faced down Virginia’s demons and enabled this Commonwealth to look ahead.
“He showed a wistful state how to embrace the future, inviting us all to be “touched by the better angels of our nature,” in the words of President Lincoln who founded the reforming Republican Party that Linwood Holton revered.
“A half century has passed since Linwood Holton served as Governor. His public service continued for decades after that, and his children carry on his legacy today, serving in public office, in the academy, and as good and loving souls.
“May we all celebrate the life of Linwood Holton, Virginia’s servant leader. Our country needs more people like him today.
“Pam and I are smiling tonight in memory of this great man who lived nearly a century. Our thoughts tonight are especially with Jinks, Anne, Taylor, Woody, and Dwight, and everyone who loved Governor Holton.
“I have directed that Virginia state flags be flown at half-staff in Governor Holton’s honor for the next 30 days.”