Leaders of local government, business and industry attended Senator Lott's news conference in Pascagoula Monday.
The announcement caught many of them by surprise.
Those who've worked with him over the years call Senator Lott an effective leader, a powerful voice in Washington and a hometown hero who's always the gentleman.
Community leaders we talked with are in agreement: Trent Lott has been a true friend to Mississippi.
Trent Lott announced his retirement amid friendly faces. Many who filled the LaFont call the senator "friend" and "neighbor".
"We'll all sadly miss the energy and enthusiasm that he's brought in so many aspects of what he's done for this region, particularly since Hurricane Katrina," said Chevron general manager Roland Kell.
Realtor Mark Cumbest helped manage Lott's campaign in Jackson County in years past.
"He's been a real help and a real friend to Mississippi and the country. We're going to miss his leadership," said Cumbest.
Dave Dennis is a longtime coast businessman and chairs the regional Federal Reserve Board in New Orleans.
"Gosh, the man's put in 35 years of elected public service. God bless him. He's done certainly more for Mississippi and for the United States than most human beings ever dreamed of," Dennis said.
When Trent Lott was a cheerleader during his days at Ole' Miss, a young A.J. Holloway played football.
The two men talked after the senator's news conference.
"You've been a great mayor," said Senator Lott, "We've done some good stuff together."
"Appreciate all your help," the mayor replied.
"We'll certainly miss him. I know that I will, because I had a friend that I could call and he'd always call back," said Holloway.
Republican Party leaders praised Lott for promoting the GOP all these years.
"I can tell you that we would have never been the strong party of our county and our state if it wasn't for Trent," said Lynn Rouse, who sits on the state Republican executive committee.
Jackson County leaders say Senator Lott was always accessible and knowledgeable. They are particularly proud of all he's done to help boost industry and promote jobs in the county.