Sen. Jay Rockefeller has decided that his season as a public official in West Virginia will end with this, his fifth term in the U.S. Senate.
He would be 83 at the conclusion of a sixth term.
His announcement that he will not seek re-election next year gives plenty of advance notice to those who are interested in the job. It was a considerate thing to do.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., gave similar early notice to people interested in running for Congress when she announced late last year that she will seek the Senate seat that Rockefeller now holds.
Rockefeller's political career began with his election to the House of Delegates in 1966, followed by his election as secretary of state in 1968.
Voters rebuffed him on his first run for governor in 1972 but elected him to two terms as governor in 1976 and 1980 before electing him to the U.S. Senate in a tight election with John Raese in 1984.
"I came to West Virginia looking for a mission and a cause that would possess me for my professional life," Rockefeller told Politico.
"When I went, I wasn't particularly welcomed there . . . But at the end of that first year in that community [Emmons], it was just so clear that . . . was what I was looking for.
"I was looking for a cause, I was looking for a mission, I was looking for something that would possess me, which would make really proud, something that was hard every day and was uphill, and it wasn't going to be on Wall Street."
One does not have to agree with Rockefeller's political philosophy to appreciate his efforts to improve conditions in this state.
The decision to leave the U.S. Senate is a difficult one. Senators hold incredible power.
But Rockefeller has chosen to follow the example of George Washington, who decided against seeking a third term as president in 1796. Not all senators - the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd comes to mind - have been as considerate.
Rockefeller's announcement requires a self-discipline that few of us possess, but should.