Statement from Gov. Phil Bredesen, Jan. 1, 2010:
“Andrea and I were both saddened to hear of John Wilder’s death, and want to express our sympathy and condolences to his family. I hope they take comfort in reflecting on what a long and productive life he led.
“Gov. Wilder was one of the toughest men I’ve ever known. A couple of years ago he fell and cut himself at his home and lost a lot of blood before he could get to the hospital. I visited him in the intensive care unit at the Med, where he couldn’t talk because he still had a ventilator tube in his throat. That was on Friday; the following Monday he flew his plane back to Nashville.
“While we often agreed on issues, I don’t know that there are two people in Tennessee politics whose political styles are more different than John Wilder’s and mine. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, we worked together well, we got some things done, and we grew a genuine friendship. It was a privilege to know this unique Tennessean; I wish it could have been for a longer time.
“John always told me that his goal in life was to ‘make a difference’ for his state. I believe he made it.”