Secretary of State John Kerry said that former Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass.), who died Saturday at the age of 95, “defined the term gentleman, and he gave life to the words ‘public servant.’ “

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“When I came to the Senate, I was humbled to walk in the footsteps of remarkable public servants like the man who preceded me, Paul Tsongas, and the man who preceded Paul, the trailblazing Ed Brooke,” Kerry said in a statement late Saturday.

Kerry remembered Brooke as a “strong” public servant with a “deep voice and a big laugh.”

Brooke, the first African-American to be elected to the Senate by popular vote, died of natural causes at his Coral Gables, Fla., home. Brooke served in the Senate from 1967 to 1979 and, before that, he served as the Massachusetts attorney general.

“Whether in the Army Infantry during World War II, where he was awarded the Bronze Star fighting fascism; or as state Attorney General, battling corruption; or, finally, as a United States Senator, helping to pass landmark civil rights legislation and pushing for affordable housing, Ed Brooke gave to his country every day of his life,” Kerry said.

“He also showed remarkable political courage when he introduced legislation to name a special prosecutor in the Watergate scandal, and became the first Senator in either party to call for President Nixon's resignation,” Kerry added.

Kerry said Brooke carried that courage after leaving the Senate, disclosing that he had breast cancer in “a warning for his fellow men that saved lives.”

“Teresa and I offer our prayers and comfort to Anne, his daughters, Remi and Edwina, and the son who assuredly carries on his name in pride, Edward IV,” Kerry said.