Virginia Congressman Donald McEachin dies aged 61 after cancer battle

  • Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin died Monday after battling colon cancer. He was 61.
  • McEachin, a Democrat, was re-elected to a fourth term earlier this month.
  • “To the end, Don was a fighter,” Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement Monday.

Rep. Donald McEachin, a Virginia Democrat, died Monday after battling colon cancer, his congressional office said.

He was 61 years old.

“We are all devastated by the death of our boss and friend, Congressman Donald McEachin,” said McEachin chief of staff Tara Rountree said in a statement on Monday evening. “For years we have watched bravely as he battles and triumphs against the side effects of his colon cancer since 2013. Tonight he lost that fight and the people of Virginia’s fourth congressional district lost a hero who always, always fought for them and put them first.”

Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who served as Commonwealth Governor from 2002 to 2006, remembered McEachin fondly on Monday.

“To the end, Don was a fighter,” Warner said in a statement. “Though he’s battled cancer and faced other trials in recent years, he never lost his focus on social and environmental justice. Tonight Virginia lost a great leader and I lost a great friend.”

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, also a former Virginia governor, recalled first meeting McEachin in 1985 and spoke about his relationship with the congressman in his memory.

“Our kids were the same age, we shared a statewide ticket with Mark Warner [in 2001]and we have been on the Virginia federal delegation together for years,” Kaine said in a statement. “The last time I was with him was on election night three weeks ago and celebrated his victory.”

“He was a gentle giant, a compassionate advocate for misfits, a climate campaigner, a Christian example, an understanding father, a proud husband, a loyal brother,” he added.

Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, recently reelected in the 7th District, noted her colleague’s legacy.

“Tonight I mourn the loss of my friend, colleague and mentor, Congressman Donald McEachin. He was a good man who tried to make others feel important and heard, whether it was in the courtroom, in the General Assembly, in the US Congress or just in a quiet moment,” she wrote on twitter.

“The death of Congressman McEachin leaves a deep void here in Virginia,” she continued. “But his example of leadership, generosity, and commitment to doing what is right in the world and righting injustices will live on in everyone whose lives he touched, including mine.”

The chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, spoke about McEachin’s character in a statement, stating that the legislature “is sorely missed in the caucus, in Congress and in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

“Don brought a servant’s heart, fierce passion, and a bright smile to everything he did,” Jeffries said.

McEachin had just been re-elected to a fourth term representing the Commonwealth’s 4th congressional district, which includes the state capital of Richmond and parts of the suburban boroughs of Henrico and Chesterfield, as well as the Tri-Cities region and part of the Hampton Roads.

During his tenure at Capitol Hill, the congressman was committed to addressing environmental justice and climate change issues and served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the Select Committee on Climate Crisis.

Prior to his election to Congress, attorney McEachin served as a member of the Virginia House of Representatives from 1996 to 2002 and again from 2006 to 2008. He served as a member of the Virginia Senate from 2008 to 2017.

In 2001, McEachin was the Democratic nominee for attorney general, but lost the election to Republican Jerry Kilgore.

The congressman is survived by his wife, Colette McEachin, the Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Richmond, and their three adult children.

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