JACKSON, Miss. -- Longtime state Sen. Jack Gordon of Okolona, known as a master of the state budgeting process, died Saturday night at his home, according to Senate leaders.

Gordon, 66, was diagnosed more than a year ago with brain cancer.

A Democrat, Gordon chaired the powerful Appropriations Committee for 12 years, until January 2008.

"He was Mr. Appropriations in the state Senate," said state Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton. "He was a master at knowing the numbers and working the numbers."

Gordon began his legislative career in the House, where he served from 1972 to 1980. He was in the Senate from 1980 to 1992, and again from 1996 until his death.

Republican Sen. Doug Davis of Hernando, who has chaired the appropriations committee since January, said Saturday evening he considered Gordon a close friend.

"Jack will be remembered as someone who loved his family, public service and the state of Mississippi," Davis said. "The position can be replaced but the man cannot be."

Burton said Gordon died at about 7:15 p.m. Saturday, surrounded by family.

Gordon operated several businesses. His survivors include his wife Martha.

Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant issued a statement late Saturday: "Jack Gordon dedicated more than 35 years of his life to serving the people of Mississippi in various capacities -- as a state senator and as a member of the state House of Representatives. Sen. Gordon was a fixture of Mississippi politics and he will certainly be missed."

Amy Tuck, who appointed Gordon as the Senate's top money minder when she was lieutenant governor from 2000 to 2008, said in a phone interview late Saturday from her Starkville home: "I lost a personal friend and former colleague."

Tuck was first elected as a Democrat, then became a Republican in late 2002. The party switch did not change her political alliance with Gordon.

She said she last visited Gordon several weeks ago when he was hospitalized.

"I thanked him for his loyalty to me while he served in the key leadership position in the state Senate," Tuck said.