State Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, who had served Northeast Shelby County in the state Legislature since 2006, died Friday morning in his sleep. He was 69 years old.
Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald, who was at Lollar’s house, was among several people who confirmed the representative’s death in the early morning hours.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
Lollar, who graduated from Austin Peay State University and served in the U.S. Marine Corps, was first elected to the District 99 seat in 2006, replacing W.C. “Bubba” Pleasant, a current Bartlett alderman.
Lollar was elected to five more terms, including in 2016, when he ran unopposed.
He was on the Aug. 2 Republican primary ballot seeking a sixth term – again unopposed in the primary. Dave Cambron of Cordova was seeking the Democratic nod in the primary.
Before joining the Legislature, Lollar served three terms on the old Shelby County Schools board.
The reaction on social media to Lollar’s death was swift with representatives at the state and local level expressing their condolences.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, via Twitter:
“Stunned and saddened this morning to hear of Rep. Ron Lollar’s passing. He was a strong advocate for Shelby County and for education, and I’ll miss his friendship and sense of humor.”
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, via Twitter:
“So sad to hear of Ron Lollar’s passing. A dear friend and trusted servant.”
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, who represents District 98:
“We are saddened to hear of the passing of our colleague State Representative Ron Lollar. He was a Marine, fighter for teachers and an independent thinker regardless of party lines. He will be missed. Our prayers go out to the Lollar family.”
Tennessee House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley:
For more than 10 years I served with Ron Lollar in the House of Representatives and found him to be a man of strong convictions and a heartfelt desire to serve his community. Ron was a decorated Marine Corps veteran, who I worked with in the Veterans Caucus and where I saw his commitment to Veterans issues. He also served on the Shelby County School Board and his passion for education was front and center during the legislation we passed earlier this year involving the TN Ready testing failures. He was one of the most vocal Representatives and voices for the teachers during that time. I will miss my friend and offer my sincere condolences to his family.
Josh Thomas of Majority Strategies in Nashville, who worked with Lollar:
“I’ve known TN Rep Ron Lollar about 20 years. Crusty old marine with a heart of gold. Our last conversation a few weeks ago when he called me to talk about digital campaigns. He began the call with ‘Josh, I’m an old fart. This seems like witchcraft’ I will miss my friend. #SemperFi”
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden:
“I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Ron Lollar. He was a wonderful man that loved people and did a fantastic job representing Shelby County in the legislature. … Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the people of the 99th district.”
House Speaker and gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell, R-Nashville:
“I am heartbroken to hear of Ron Lollar’s passing. He was an important voice in the #tnleg. He served this country in the Marines, & this state with his tireless advocacy for TN students and ag issues. He was my colleague & dear friend. My thoughts & prayers are w/ his family.”
Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams and House Majority Leader Glen Casada, via a joint statement:
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of our colleague and friend Ron Lollar’s passing. Chairman Lollar was the perfect example of what it means to be a public servant. From his service in the U.S. Marine Corps, to his involvement on the Shelby County School Board, and throughout his service in our House Chamber over the past twelve years, Ron demonstrated his love for his country, state, community, constituents, and most importantly, his family. To Ron’s wife Brenda, and their children, we offer our deepest sympathies, and we continue to pray for them and ask that God comfort them during this difficult time.”