Rep. Donald McEachin, a Democrat who has represented Virginia’s fourth congressional district since 2017, died Monday night after a battle with colorectal cancer, according to his office. He was 61.
Tara Rountree, Eachin’s chief of staff, stated in a statement that the congressman has been suffering from “secondary effects of his colorectal cancer since 2013.”
“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 family asks for privacy at this time. Arrangements will be announced over the next few days.”
McEachin was first elected to represent Virginia’s 4th Congressional District in 2016, after serving in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly.
In each role, the Virginia lawmaker advocated for changes to US gun laws, environmental protection, and affordable health care.
“This truly is a dream come true, folks,” McEachin said during his victory speech in 2016. “We know we’re out here making history, and history doesn’t come easy.”
McEachin, the son of an Army veteran and a public school teacher, attended American University and the University of Virginia School of Law. According to his House biography, he also received a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.
News of McEachin’s death was met with warm remembrances from those who knew him.
“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,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia tweeted. “Tonight, Virginia has lost a great leader and I have lost a great friend.”
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia similarly hailed McEachin as an exemplary civil 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 dad, a proud husband, a loyal brother,” Kaine tweeted.
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, meanwhile, called McEachin a “noble friend, husband, and father.”
“An environmentalist, civil rights advocate, faithful public servant, and a man of consequence. There was no better ally to have. I will miss him terribly,” Connolly tweeted.
During his time in Congress, McEachin sought to address global issues such as climate change, but he also addressed local needs during his reelection victory party earlier this month. “We need to make sure we can deliver basic services to our district,” he told reporters at the time.
According to his House biography, McEachin was a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and the NAACP. 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.