RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin passed away on Monday following a battle with colorectal cancer. He was 61 years old.
Tara Rountree, McEachin’s Chief of Staff, released the following statement after his death:
We are all devastated at the passing of our boss and friend, Congressman Donald McEachin. 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.
The family asks for privacy at this time. Arrangements will be announced over the next few days.”
Earlier this month, McEachin — a Richmond native and former Virginia state lawmaker — defeated Republican Leon Benjamin in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District race to win a fourth term in Congress. He was first elected to serve the state’s 4th District, in 2016.
He was in good spirits when 8News interviewed him on election night a few weeks ago.
“It’s a rewarding feeling to be called this early with this type of margin, but I don’t get the credit,” he said. “It’s about the people. Not the party.”
The son of an army veteran and a teacher, McEachin grew up in the Richmond area and graduated from American University, UVA Law and Virginia Union University School of Theology. He was a passionate environmentalist, serving on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the House Committee on Natural Resources, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis as well as various related subcommittees.
Before becoming a U.S. Representative, McEachin served twice in the Virginia House of Delegates and in the Virginia Senate representing Charles City County and parts of Henrico County and Richmond.
In 2019, after recovering from cancer treatment and returning to Congress, McEachin’s staff reported he had experienced “ongoing complications” related to chemotherapy and radiation.
“I am grateful for the outpouring of support and well wishes from my constituents and colleagues as I recovered from surgery,” McEachin said in a statement at the time. “Throughout my career, I have been a strong advocate for affordable, comprehensive health care for all, but this personal experience has further reinforced the critical need to ensure all Americans have access to quality care and prescription drugs at reasonable costs.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner issued the following statement shortly after the announcement.
“Donald and Colette McEachin have been wonderful friends to me and Lisa for more than thirty years. We often bonded over stories and laughs about our mutual challenges raising families with three strong-willed daughters,” Warner said. “Up until the very end, Don 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.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine issued his own statement not long after Warner.
“I met Donald McEachin in 1985 and we became fast friends. Anne and I went to the Richmond party celebrating his marriage to Colette. Our kids were the same age, we shared a statewide ticket with Mark Warner, and we’ve been together in the Virginia federal delegation for years,” Kaine said. “I was last with him on election night three weeks ago, celebrating his win. 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.”
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin also issued a statement on Twitter.
“It’s so sad to learn of the passing of [McEachin]. A valiant fighter until the end, he admirably served Virginia [and] worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his constituents [and] Americans,” Youngkin said. “Suzanne [and] I are thinking of his family, friends, [and] community during this difficult time.”
Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia’s 3rd District also made a statement.
“Donald was a thoughtful and principled legislator and respected by people on both sides of the aisle,” Scott said. “He was also a trail-blazing figure in Virginia politics — being the first African-American nominee of a major party for Virginia Attorney General and only the third African-American elected to Congress from Virginia. Donald was resolute in pushing Virginia to lead the way in climate policy.”
Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger of Virginia’s 7th District released a statement as well.
“Tonight, I am mourning my friend, colleague, and mentor Congressman Donald McEachin. He was a good man who endeavored to make others feel important and heard whether in the courtroom, the General Assembly, the U.S. Congress, or simply in a quiet moment,” Spanberger said. “Godspeed my friend, my brother, and my neighbor.”
McEachin is survived by his wife, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Collette McEachin and his three children.
This is a developing story, check back with 8News for updates.