MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama leaders are reacting to the news of the death of state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.
The lawmaker died Wednesday after suffering a massive heart attack the day before at his home, according to House spokesman Clay Redden. He was 68.
Gov. Kay Ivey reacted to the news, calling Polizos “a man of honor and distinction” and “a proud family man and member of his community,” who will be missed.
For Rep. Polizos, serving the public was straightforward. He publicly fought for his constituents and for 15 years, largely stayed above the political fray. He was first elected to the District 74 seat in a special election in December 2013. He was re-elected in 2014 and 2018. Before that, Polizos served on the Montgomery County Commission from 2004 until his election to the House.
“I can get things done for the people, I listen and I go do what needs to be done”, Polizos told WSFA 12 News during his first run for state office.
Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said Polizos was a good friend and served his constituents well in the House.
“He championed the cause of small business and was always watchful that tax dollars were being spent wisely,” said McCutcheon. “My wife Debbie and I offer our heartfelt sympathy to his family.”
“He said what he thought and he was the most non-political person I’ve seen since I’ve been in this office - and that was refreshing,” stated Rep. Kirk Hatcher.
Hatcher sat by Polizos in the House. Less than a week ago they realized they shared similar paths to public service.
“We talked about how we came back home to Montgomery and what brought it home and for both of us, it was family,” said Hatcher. "For him it was all about family. He talked to me about his father who lived to be in his 90s, his grandmother who was approaching 100, we talked about longevity.”
Hatcher said that conversation resonated deeply Wednesday when he learned of Polizos’ death.
State Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road, served with Polizos both in the House and on the Montgomery County Commission.
“We relied on each other a lot,” said Ingram. “He was a man of his word and he was always there if you needed him. All you had to do was call.“
The family business was Polizos’ passion. If he wasn’t at the State House, you could find him at Mr. G’s, the place where he greeted nearly ever patron who walked through the door. Wednesday black wreaths hung on the restaurant’s shuttered doors, a difficult sight for many who enjoyed his food and fellowship.
Montgomery County Commission Chair Elton Dean served alongside Polizos. He said Polizos’ business background made him a more effective commissioner.
“He was very concerned about small businesses,” Dean stated. “He was hard-nosed, he cared about his community, he cared about the law.”
Polizos was born and raised in Montgomery and graduated from Troy State University, as it was known then, with a degree in business. He was a well-known restaurant owner specializing in Greek and Italian food, as well as “home cooking.”
Polizos is survived by his wife Dorothy, three children and five grandchildren. Funeral services have not been announced at this time.
More Reaction from Alabama leaders
Gov. Kay Ivey
“Representative Polizos was a man of honor and distinction. He was first and foremost a proud family man and member of his community. He was a successful small business owner who believed in hard work and treating people the right way. Each day when he went to work in the State House he took that viewpoint with him and served the people of his district with their best interests in mind. His presence will be missed. My prayers for peace and comfort are with his wife Dorothy and their family during this difficult time.”
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia:
“Dimitri Polizos was a man with a true servant’s heart, which was on full display whenever he was filling the needs of his constituents in House District 74, the residents of the Montgomery County Commission district he once represented, or the customers in the many landmark restaurants he owned and operated. Quick with a smile and an encouraging word to all he met, Rep. Polizos was a unifying and positive force in the Alabama House, and his presence and big personality will be deeply missed. Memories of Rep. Polizos bring to mind the words in Matthew 23:11 - 12, which read, ‘The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.’ Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to his family and his scores of friends who can all rest assured in the knowledge that Rep. Polizos leaves behind a lasting legacy of public service that others would do well to emulate.”
Alabama Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro:
“I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family, colleagues, and constituents of Rep. Dimitri Polizos. Although we did not serve in the same body together, we both sought to make Alabama a better place to live and work. He will be missed.”
Montgomery County Commission
“The Montgomery County Commission is saddened to learn of the untimely passing of former Montgomery County Commissioner Dimitri Polizos. Polizos was a proud Montgomerian who not only dedicated his time to serving this county but this state. He represented Montgomery County District 3 from 2004 to 2013 and then served as State Representative for House District 74 starting in 2013. We are grateful for his leadership, dedication and hard work. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Polizos family and those who had the pleasure of calling Dimitri a friend.”
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth
“I first came to know Dimtri Polizos when we served together in the Alabama House of Representatives, and it was an honor to claim him as both a friend and colleague. Dimitri was a humble man who believed that serving others - whether as an elected official or as a beloved and well-known restaurateur - was his true life’s calling. He always showed kindness to others, he always stood loyally with his friends, and he always followed the simple, biblical admonition that all of us were taught in childhood - do unto others as you would have them do unto you. While all of us who knew him will miss, I know that the angels in Heaven are now enjoying a Greek/Italian feast, and Dimtri is happily serving the tables with a smile, a wink, and a joke. His family, friends, and constituents have our heartfelt condolences.”