U.S. Representative Donald McEachin, a Democrat from Virginia, died Monday, according to a statement from his office. He was 61 years old.
“We are all devastated by the passing of our patron and friend, Congressman Donald McEachin,” said Tara Rountree, his chief of staff. the statement. “Valiantly, for years now we have seen him fight and triumph over the side effects of his 2013 colorectal cancer. Tonight he lost that battle, and the people of Virginia’s fourth congressional district lost a hero. who always, always fought for them. and place them first.
“Until a new representative is elected, our office will remain open and continue to serve our constituents,” Rountree said.
“The family is asking for privacy at this time. Details will be announced in the coming days. »
McEachin was first elected to represent Virginia’s 4th congressional district in 2016, having served in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly.
In each role, the Virginia lawmaker championed reforms to U.S. gun laws, environmental protections and affordable health care.
“It really is a dream come true,” McEachin told supporters in his 2016 victory speech. “We know we’re here to make history and history isn’t easy.”
The son of an Army veteran and a public school teacher, McEachin graduated from American University with a degree in political science and the University of Virginia School of Law. He also received a master’s degree in theology from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, according to his House biography.
The news of McEachin’s death sparked warm memories from those who knew him.
“Until the very end, Don McEachin was a fighter. Even though he battled cancer and faced other lawsuits in recent years, he never lost his focus on social and environmental justice” tweeted Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, “Tonight Virginia lost a great leader and I lost a great friend.”
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia also hailed McEachin as an exemplary public servant.
“I met Donald McEachin in 1985 – we became fast friends. A gentle giant, a compassionate champion for underdogs, a climate warrior, a Christian example, an understanding father, a proud husband, a faithful brother,” he said. tweeted Kaine.
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, meanwhile, called McEachin “a noble friend, husband and father.”
“An environmentalist, a civil rights defender, a loyal public servant and a man of consequence. There was no better ally to have. I will miss him terribly,” Connolly tweeted.
As McEachin sought to address global issues during his tenure in Congress, such as climate change, he also spoke about local needs at his re-election party earlier this month. “We need to make sure we can provide basic services to our district,” he told reporters at the time.
McEachin was a lifetime member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and the NAACP, according to his biography of House. He was also a member of the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.
McEachin is survived by his wife Colette and three adult children.
This story was updated with additional information on Monday.