5 things to know about Johnny Isakson

Senator announced he will vacate his seat in the U.S. Senate at the end of 2019

Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is stepping down at the end of 2019. A four-decade veteran of Georgia politics, Isakson has served in the U.S. Senate since 2005. Isakson was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2015, and has suffered several falls since then. “I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff," Isakson, 74, said. It’s not yet clear who Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint to Isakson’s seat.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson announced Wednesday he will resign at the end of 2019.

“It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term, but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state,” the 74-year-old Isakson said in a statement, citing his declining health.

» Georgia's Isakson to resign from Senate at end of 2019

Here are five things to know about the 74-year-old who has served Georgia for more than four decades.

1. He was born here

John Hardy Isakson was born December 28, 1944, in Atlanta, to Edwin Andrew and Julia Isakson.

2. Before politics

Isakson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1966 and served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966 until 1972. In 1967, he opened the first Cobb County office of Northside Realty, an Atlanta-area real estate firm his father helped to establish. He was company president for 22 years.

» PHOTOS: Johnny Isakson through the years.

3. Family

He and his wife, Dianne, married in 1968 and have three children — John, Julie and Kevin — and eight grandchildren. They live in Marietta and attend Mount Zion United Methodist Church, where Isakson previously taught sixth-grade Sunday school for 30


4. Politics

According to his bio, Isakson "holds the distinction of being the only Georgian ever to have been elected to the state House, state Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. In addition, in 2016 he became the first Georgia Republican ever to be elected to a third term in the U.S. Senate."

» Isakson timeline

5. Health

In 2015, Isakson was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He has suffered several falls since the diagnosis, including this past July, when he broke four ribs. During his retirement announcement Wednesday, he revealed he'd undergone surgery to remove a growth on his kidney.

» How will U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson's replacement be chosen?