Harlan Mathews, former U.S. senator and state treasurer, gravely ill

Former U.S. Sen. Harlan Mathews, who also served as Tennessee’s state treasurer and deputy to Gov. Ned McWherter, is gravely ill and has been admitted to a Nashville hospice facility, according to family friends.

Mathews, 87, began a long career in the public service arena in 1950 during the administration of Gov. Gordon Browning. He continued to serve during the administrations of Govs. Frank Clement and Buford Ellington, including a long stint as state finance commissioner.

Mathews subsequently served as an assistant to longtime state Comptroller Bill Snodgrass, then was elected state treasurer in 1974, holding that position until 1987, when he became deputy governor to McWherter.

He served as deputy governor until January, 1993, when McWherter appointed Mathews to the U.S. Senate, succeeding Al Gore after Gore became vice president. He did not seek election to a regular term and stepped down in December, 1994, after Fred Thompson won the seat.

He was afterwards active as a lawyer and lobbyist until retirement. Mathews and his wife, Patsy, have two sons, Les and Stanley.