S.I. Hayakawa, the semantics professor whose showdown with student protesters led to a short U.S. Senate career, was remembered by political friends and foes as a feisty iconoclast.

Hayakawa died Thursday of a stroke after being hospitalized since Tuesday with bronchitis. He was 85.The 5-foot-3 professor attracted a following among political conservatives and aroused the ire of liberals for squelching a student protest at San Francisco State University during the late 1960s and for later remarks that appeared to support the internment of Japanese-Americans.

"He was totally unpredictable," said San Francisco State Associate Vice President Don Scoble, who recalled once helping Hayakawa roll up a rug in preparation for a tap dance lesson.

Former President Ronald Reagan, who as governor of California promoted Hayakawa for his tough stance against student protesters, said in a statement, "He was invaluable during some very difficult times - a courageous man of integrity and principle." Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, described Hayakawa as "a great California iconoclast."

And Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., said in a statement that he respected Hayakawa as a "feisty but sincere battler for his beliefs" even though the two "agreed on practically nothing."

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa came to the United States in 1927. He earned a Ph.D. in English and American literature from the University of Wisconsin and joined the San Francisco State faculty in 1955, a year after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.