David Ralston, the Georgia House Speaker, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 68, according to a representative named Kaleb McMichen. David’s resignation as speaker was announced less than two weeks ago due to health issues.

David Ralston had passed away following “an extended illness.” During his 13 years as speaker of Georgia’s 180-member House of Representatives, the Republican from Blue Ridge rose through the ranks to become the state government’s second most powerful leader.

“A great pine tree has fallen in the Georgia House of Representatives,” said Democrat Calvin Smyre of Columbus.

Ralston will be laid to rest in repose in the Georgia State Capitol, according to Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who issued an order that flags be flown at half-staff until the funeral.

“Our state lost one of its true giants,” Kemp said in a statement.

Ralston had expressed the expectation that he would remain a member of the House of Representatives even after he stepped down as speaker after serving in that capacity for 13 years.

In accordance with the provisions of the state constitution, the current Speaker of the House Pro Tem Jan Jones will assume the role of Speaker of the House until the conclusion of the current legislative session in January. She will make history in Georgia by becoming the first female speaker in the history of Georgia.

“David Ralston spent his career in public service trying to lift others up and move our state forward,” Jones said in a statement. “He knew the awesome power of bringing people together — reasoning together — and finding common ground. Regardless of political ideology, he treated everyone with respect and was a model of civility.” Ralston is survived by his wife, Sheree, as well as two of his children who have reached adulthood. Funeral preparations will be communicated at a later time.