Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin(D) passed away Nov. 28 following his long battle with colorectal cancer, according to his office.
“We are all devastated at the passing of our boss and friend, Congressman Donald McEachin,” Tara Rountree, his chief of staff, said in the statement. “Valiantly, for years now, we have watched him fight and triumph over the secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013. Tonight, he lost that battle, and the people of Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District lost a hero who always, always fought for them and put them first.”
“Until a new representative is elected, our office will remain open and continue to serve our constituents,” Rountree said.
The congressman, 61, who represented a district stretching from Richmond to the North Carolina line was elected in 2016, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013.
After serving both Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, McEachin was reelected this month with 64 percent of votes against Republican opponent Leon Benjamin and was a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the Natural Resources Committee. During his tenure the well-respected congressman dedicated a substantial amount of effort advocating for gun reform laws, affordable healthcare and environmental protection.
His first term in Congress consisted of co-finding the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force, which he led. As an original co-sponsor of the Environmental Justice for All Act, he sought to expand the National Environmental Policy Act and introduce new fees on oil, gas, and coal to fund communities transitioning away from fossil fuel economies.
Although McEachin initially kept his diagnosis private and attributed his weight loss from walking around the Capital so much, he became more transparent with his health battle recently while speaking to a theater full of people at the viewing party of Wakanda Forever encouraging them not to prolong testing.
“I can’t stress to you enough the importance of early detection,” McEachin said. “I know many of you have watched my journey, and I’ve had a number of health issues. Don’t fool around. Don’t go through my journey, go to the doctor,” the lawmaker said.
The devastation from the news of Donald McEachin’s passing has understandably swept the nation leaving many to pay their respects by tributes.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) paid tribute to McEachin on Twitter.
“Up until the very end, Don McEachin was a fighter. Even though he battled cancer and faced other trials in recent years, he never lost his focus on social and environmental justice. Tonight, Virginia has lost a great leader and I have lost a great friend.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said heartfelt words about his peer McEachin.
“I met Donald McEachin in 1985 and we became fast friends. He was a gentle giant, a compassionate champion for underdogs, a climate warrior, a Christian example, an understanding dad, a proud husband, a loyal brother.”
President Joe Biden expressed his sadness after hearing of McEachin’s passing.
“He fought for justice, for civil rights, and for communities that are often left behind. Thanks to Don’s leadership and tireless advocacy, we passed historic legislation to combat the climate crisis and advance environmental justice,” Biden wrote in a statement released Tuesday.