3 weeks after being re-elected to a 4th term on Capitol Hill, Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin, a lawyer-turned-US congressman who ran on issues ranging from the environment to renaming Fort Lee, passed away on Monday night from complications from colon cancer. Age-wise, he was 61.
Just after 10:00 p.m., McEachin’s office sent out an email announcing his passing. A hero who “always, always battled for her and placed her first” was gone, the Fourth Congressional District declared on Monday. The assertion is vague as to the circumstances behind McEachin’s passing.
“We are all devastated by the death of our patron and friend, Congressman Donald McEachin,” spokeswoman Tara Rountree said in the email. “Bravely, we watched him fight and triumph over the aftereffects of his 2013 colon cancer for years. 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.”
According to Rountree, until a new representative is elected, the office will stay open and continue to serve voters. McEachin had had a number of health issues over the years, most notably colon cancer. Always a tall, burly man, McEachin’s weight loss due to his health was quite evident, but he didn’t let his health setbacks stop him.
Colleague tributes began pouring into the news. United States Senator Tim Kaine, now a senator, and McEachin ran together on a statewide Democratic ticket. Mark Warner said in 2001 that he met McEachin in 1985, “and we quickly became friends”. In a statement from his office, Kaine stated, “We were together in the Virginia congressional delegation for years. Our kids were the same age, we shared a statewide ticket with Mark Warner. She described him as “a gentle giant, sensitive fighter for outcasts, a climate warrior, a Christian example, an understanding father, a proud spouse, and a devoted brother.”
Warner, who won the governorship of Virginia and was eventually elected to the United States Senate, also praised McEachin for his service and friendship with him. Don was a fighter all the way to the end, Warner said in a statement. “He has recently battled cancer and endured other hardships, but he never wavered in his commitment to social and environmental justice. I lost a great friend tonight, and Virginia lost a great leader.”
McEachin is the fourth Virginia congressman to pass away while serving since 2000. Republican Jo Ann Davis of Gloucester in the state’s first congressional district was the last, passing away from cancer in 2007 at age 57. Representative. Herbert Bateman, a Republican from Newport News, passed away in 2000 at the age of 72. Like McEachin, Norman Sisisky represented the Tri-City region on Capitol Hill and passed away at the age of 71 from lung cancer.
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