He also praised Rockefeller's efforts to bring Toyota to Buffalo and to spur the recent opening of the Gestamp plant in South Charleston.
"Senator Rockefeller has brought millions and millions of dollars to Kanawha County and the great state of West Virginia," Carper said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said, "As an original sponsor of the Children's Health Insurance Program, [Rockefeller] made it possible for more than 143,000 of West Virginia's youngest citizens to receive the quality health care they deserve."
After the Sago and Aracoma mine disasters, Tomblin said, Rockefeller spearheaded efforts to improve mine-safety legislation, "including longer-lasting self-rescuers, quicker incident notification and stricter fines.
"Thousands of military veterans now have access to benefits, a state nursing home and home health care because Senator Rockefeller led the charge on these and many other important veterans' issues," Tomblin said.
Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., said, "I want to thank Jay for his nearly half-century of public service to the state of West Virginia and this country.
"From his beginnings as a VISTA volunteer in 1964 to his service as delegate, secretary of state, governor and senator, Jay has devoted much of his life to working on behalf of the people of the Mountain State."
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said, "Gayle and I join all West Virginians in thanking Jay for representing our state for more than 40 years . . . . When I first arrived in Washington two and a half years ago, I couldn't have received a warmer welcome from Jay and his staff.
"In all his decades of public service, Jay has followed one guiding principle: to improve the lives of West Virginians. Jay's heart has always been true, and we share the goal of serving the beautiful people of the state we love."
Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnect West Virginia and a former spokeswoman for late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., thanked Rockefeller "for the tremendous service and leadership he has provided West Virginia over nearly five decades.
"He continues to be a tireless advocate for advancing the state and its people," Barth said. "TechConnect West Virginia looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Rockefeller over the next two years as we work to turn innovation into enterprise."
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who recently announced plans to run for Rockefeller's seat, said, "Senator Rockefeller has served our state with distinction for over 40 years. Jay has always been a true gentlemen and hardworking statesman.
"While we disagree on many policy issues, the number-one concern for both of us has always been the welfare of West Virginians," Capito said. "I consider him a personal friend."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.