Ariel Sharon on the Oct. 4, 1982, cover of TIME
Cover Credit: ALLAN TANNENBAUM
By Lily Rothman
December 30, 2014

Since the very first issue of TIME, the Milestones section has marked important moments of the week and celebrated the lives of those who died recently. Staffers, critics and those who knew the late, great figures share what made those people special. Here are a few of 2014’s most notable Milestones obituaries for the people who defined the political shape of our world.

Nancy Reagan on James ‘Jim’ Brady: “Jim was a patriot. He loved his country and was proud to serve. Ronnie insisted that Jim remain his press secretary [after he was seriously wounded during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan], because it was the right thing to do and the White House just did not seem complete without Jim.”

Read the full remembrance here

Senator Bernie Sanders on Jim Jeffords: “In Washington, he was a strong advocate for education, disability rights, the environment and the arts. Millions of Americans–whether they realize it or not–have benefited from his efforts.”

Read the full remembrance here

Alex Altman on Jeb Magruder: “Drive without discipline is a dangerous thing, particularly at the highest rungs of power. In 1974, when former White House aide Jeb Magruder became a confessed felon, he made a candid statement about the source of his moral failures. ‘Somewhere between my ambition and my ideals,’ he admitted, ‘I lost my ethical compass.'”

Read the full remembrance here

George J. Mitchell on Ian Paisley: “Ian Paisley was a historic and controversial figure in Northern Ireland and throughout the U.K. For many years, he stood at the intersection of religion and politics in Northern Ireland as he led opposition to power sharing between his Protestant majority and the Catholic minority. Often flamboyant, he called the Pope ‘the Antichrist’ and criticized Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair as ‘liars.'”

Read the full remembrance here

Nate Rawlings on Otis Pike: “As head of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, he spearheaded the first congressional examination of secret dealings by the CIA, including illegal spying on Americans at home. During the combative hearings, Pike was ‘the model of a properly pugnacious public servant,’ TIME wrote, ‘sharp-tongued and not easily intimidated.'”

Read the full remembrance here

Tom Segev on Ariel Sharon: “Sharon often felt misunderstood and misrepresented as a knee-jerk belligerent. I asked him if he had liked participating in war. The former army general began his response solemnly, saying only a man like him–a man who had fought in all of Israel’s wars and sustained injuries in two of them–could love peace as much as he did. But then, in a more pensive vein, he added that, to him, fighting was like farming: both activities were essential to life.”

Read the full remembrance here

James A. Baker III on Eduard Shevardnadze: “He will have an honored place in history if for no other reason than that he and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev refused to use force to preserve the Soviet empire.”

Read the full remembrance here

Bob Ney on Jim Traficant: “Some remember Jim for how his career ended, but those of us who knew him remember his passion, humor, wit and concern for the average person. Many in his district fondly recalled the good things he did as he left the House for the last time with his famous closing line: ‘Beam me up, Mr. Speaker.'”

Read the full remembrance here

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