While he rarely sought the spotlight, fellow Wisconsin legislators say his impact will not soon be forgotten.
"A lot of times people are saying people should be yelling and hollering more and screaming and fighting for their corner. He had strong views but he really preferred to be low key and just work to get things done for our state," said Rep. Tom Petri, R-6th District.
Kohl will be replaced in January by incoming Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin. Baldwin defeated Republican Tommy Thompson in November. Baldwin says she hopes to continue the work started by Kohl many years ago.
"A lot of it will be continuing what I talked about in the campaign, which is to be a fighter and a voice for middle class families," said Baldwin.
He may not even be remembered most for his work in the senate, but rather his efforts closer to home.
"Herb Kohl has a long and wide base of philanthropy in the state, people will remember him in Milwaukee for his retail ventures and really for just being a nice guy," said Lawrence University political science professor Arnold Shober.
The kind of legacy Kohl would approve.
"Please know that we have listened to you carefully and fought for you always. Every Wisconsinite who wanted it - Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, farmer or city dweller, got full consideration in my office," Kohl said.
Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin will be sworn in on January 3rd.
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