Connell died Wednesday afternoon. Before his retirement from the House in 2002, he had represented Augusta since 1969. The last 26 years, he held the second-highest position in the House, speaker pro tempore, the longest of anyone in the United States in a similar post.
House members vote every two years for the speaker and the speaker pro tempore. He presided in the speaker's place.
He also chaired the delegation of local members of the House and Senate and campaigned in the area for fellow Democrats running statewide.
"He was a tireless advocate for Augusta and Richmond County," said current Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.
Ralston invited all of the members of the Augusta delegation to the well of the House when he made his announcement.
"The one thing you heard about Jack Connell was he was a true gentleman and public servant," Ralston said.
Rep. Barbara Sims, R-Augusta, took a moment to speak on his behalf. He was a personal friend and helped her get elected even though she was in a different party.
"He loved his job, and he told me many times he missed being here."