Honey Alexander, wife of Lamar Alexander, dies at age 77

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. makes his way to the podium with wife Honey Alexander to speak...
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. makes his way to the podium with wife Honey Alexander to speak to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Knoxville, Tenn.(AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Published: Oct. 30, 2022 at 12:17 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Honey Alexander, the wife of former Tennessee Governor and Senator Lamar Alexander, has died, the family announced in a statement on Sunday. She was 77.

Alexander died Saturday at her home outside Maryville, Tennessee, according to the family.

She was married to Lamar Alexander for 53 years and stood by his side as her served two terms as governor of Tennessee and was later elected to the U.S. Senate.

“Chuck and I are deeply saddened to hear of Honey Alexander’s passing. She was a great champion for children and families, having led the Healthy Children Initiative as First Lady of Tennessee,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn said in a statement. “We join all Tennesseans in praying for Senator Alexander and his family.”

“My deepest condolences to Lamar and the entire Alexander family on the loss of their beloved Honey,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said in a social media post. “While she avoided the limelight whenever possible, she was always quietly working on behalf of children and families of our state and nation. She was a steadfast partner to her husband and a model First Lady for our state. She will be missed.”

According to the family’s obit published by TNJ: On the Hill, when Honey moved to Nashville with her husband and 11-month-old son, Drew, she began to focus her attention on efforts relating to the health and wellbeing of families and children.

As Tennessee’s First Lady from 1979 to 1987, she led the statewide Healthy Children Initiative with the goal of providing prenatal health care for every child.

Nashville’s Family & Children Service named its new building after Honey Alexander in 2017.

“Our dear ‘Honey’ was funny, loving, always caring, unselfish and courageous,” her family said in the statement. “We are so fortunate to have spent our lives with her. We will miss her every day.”

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, issued the following statement on the passing of Honey Alexander:

“Elaine and I are terribly saddened by the passing of our dear friend Honey Alexander.

“The state of Tennessee and our entire nation are better for the prolific partnership and marvelous love story that began 55 years ago at the Senate staff softball game where Honey and Lamar Alexander first met.

“Through decades in the political limelight, Honey Alexander modeled grace, charity, and public service. She brought her passion for helping children and families to the Governor’s Mansion in Nashville, the University of Tennessee, the Department of Education, and — to the great good fortune of so many lucky friends — the U.S. Senate.

“Elaine and I were fortunate to enjoy Honey’s hospitality at Blackberry Farm, where she and Lamar reveled in Tennessee’s natural beauty. I know the entire Senate joins us in praying for our dear friend, Lamar, their children, Leslee, Kathryn, and Will, and the entire Alexander family as they hold tight to cherished memories of Honey in this difficult time.”

Honey Alexander was born Oct. 12, 1945, in Los Angeles. She was working for U.S. Sen. John Tower of Texas when she met her future husband, who was a staffer for U.S. Sen. Howard Baker Jr. of Tennessee, during a softball game between the two staffs in 1967, her family said. They married in 1969.

Honey Alexander liked to jog, plant flowers and read historical novels, her family said. She also loved to spend time with her children and grandchildren, her family said.

Honey Alexander is survived by her husband of 53 years, Lamar Alexander; three children, Leslee Alexander of Maryville, Kathryn Alexander, of Briarcliff Manor, NY, and Will Alexander, of Nashville; nine grandchildren; her brothers Frank Buhler, Jr. and Bruce Buhler; and her sisters Blanche Carter and Jessica Weiland. A fourth child, Drew Alexander of Nashville, died on December 31, 2021.

According to the family’s obit, a private graveside service for family members will be held at the family cemetery at Hesse Creek Chapel in Walland, Tennessee. A memorial service will be held later at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville.

The family asks in lieu of flowers, memorial be made to the Honey Alexander Center, 2400 Clifton Ave., Nashville, TN 37209.

Associated Press contributed to this report.