Former Sen. Mike Ellis, who spent 44 years in the state Legislature, has passed away, according to Sen. Roger Roth, who succeeded him for his Appleton-area Senate seat.

“Someone once told me that Mike Ellis wasn’t just the leader of the Senate, he was the Senate,” Roth said. “No matter what was happening in the Capitol, Mike knew about it and was already working it out. He has left a lasting impression on this state because of his strong personality and dedication to public service.”

Gov. Scott Walker in a statement called Ellis “a giant in the Legislature and a bigger-than-life personality in Wisconsin politics.”

Ellis, 77, was elected to the Assembly in 1970 and the Senate in 1982. He served as the Senate’s president, minority leader and majority leader.

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