Arlen Specter marched to the beat of his own drum, which often made him a hero or a villain, depending on the issue and your political leaning.
In the end, his legacy drew praise from both sides of the aisle.
Specter, 82, died on Sunday his home in Philadelphia from complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
It was Specter's third bout with cancer.
Former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell called Specter a champion for veterans and said, "Sen. Specter did more for the people of Pennsylvania over his more than 30-year career with the possible exception of Benjamin Franklin."
Sen. Pat Toomey, whose planned challenge to Specter in the 2010 Republican primary got the incumbent to switch to the Democratic Party, called Specter, "a man of sharp intelligence and dogged determination ... His impact on our state and public policy will not be forgotten."
For much of his 30 years in the U.S. Senate, Specter was a moderate Republican whose independence, at times, got him in hot water with the more conservative members of his party, especially after he helped stop the nomination of conservative Judge Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court.
But four years later, Specter came under fire from liberals because of his tough questioning of Anita Hill during the hearings on Clarence Thomas' nomination for the Supreme Court. Hill had accused Thomas of sexual harassment.
Likewise on other matters, Specter wasn't afraid to defy party leaders. One of his most controversial votes was for President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill in 2009. Specter was only one of three Republican senators backing the plan.
That angered fellow Republicans and made Specter realize he would likely lose in the 2010 Republican senatorial primary, which led to him switching parties.
But that didn't work out, either, as he lost in the Democratic primary, bringing his longstanding political career to a close later that year.
Former Republican Gov. Tom Ridge perhaps summed up Specter's career best with a statement: "He generated a lot of support and a lot of dissent, but he was unafraid to be held accountable. ... At the end of the day, he was one relentless, unapologetic fighter. Republicans and Democrats may not like how he voted, but they certainly had to respect his mindset."
It's an epitaph that we believe Specter would appreciate.