ASHEVILLE: NC state Sen. Martin Nesbitt dies at 67 - WNCN: News, Weather

NC state Sen. Martin Nesbitt dies at 67

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Just two days after he announced he would step down as head of the North Carolina Senate Caucus for Democrats, Sen. Martin Nesbitt died Thursday at 67.

Senate Democratic Caucus Director Ford Porter said Nesbitt died early Thursday evening after a brief battle with cancer. He served more than three decades in the state legislature, first in the House and then in the Senate.

Nesbitt was first appointed to the House in 1979 to finish out the remainder of his mother's term. Mary Cordell Nesbitt held the Buncombe County seat until her death.

On Tuesday, Nesbitt, D-Asheville, informed his colleagues of a recent medical diagnosis and announced he would step down to seek treatment.

A group of well-wishers lined a road near Interstate 40 Wednesday to welcome the Asheville lawmaker home as he arrived home in an ambulance, according to the Associated Press.

After his announcement, Senate Democrats selected Sen. Dan Blue Jr. as caucus leader.

"I have known and served with Martin for over 30 years and I will greatly miss his friendship, counsel, and candor. Tonight my prayers are with Martin, his family, and the families across North Carolina for whom he worked for so long," said Blue. 

Gov. Pat McCrory ordered all North Carolina state flags on state facilities to be lowered to half staff in honor of Nesbitt.

Statements on the death of Sen. Nesbitt:

"Sen. Nesbitt was a dedicated public servant to the State of North Carolina," Governor McCrory said. "He was a true professional in everything that he did. We join his family in mourning his loss."

- Gov. Pat McCrory

"Sen. Martin Nesbitt cared deeply about people and spent a lifetime fighting for what he believed would make North Carolina a better place. His passing leaves a deep void in our Senate family. I ask everyone to keep his loved ones in their prayers."

- Senate leader Phil Berger

"The citizens of the State of North Carolina have lost a leader and champion of exemplary and distinguished public service. We, the fellow Democrats who worked with and supported Sen. Nesbitt will continue to champion the causes for which he fought during his illustrious career and we will incorporate his spirit into the permanent fabric of the Democratic Party."

- the N.C. Democratic Party

"Sen. Nesbitt was an honorable and dedicated public servant who worked to improve the lives of North Carolinians."

- the N.C. Republican Party

"I am deeply saddened to learn of Senator Nesbitt's passing. He was a dedicated public servant who devoted his life to the ideals he believed in. Senator Nesbitt was a constant advocate for the community he represented and his passion, leadership and work ethic made all of North Carolina a better place. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and we owe them the deepest gratitude for sharing him with our state."

- Rep. Larry D. Hall

"An avid racing fan, Martin helped organize the General Assembly's ‘Pit Crew Challenge,' and I always enjoyed being part of his team when I served in the State Senate. I am honored to call Martin a colleague and friend, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

- Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan

"He served because he cared.  Hejust cared profoundly about people, particularly people who need a littlehelp.  He cared a great deal about his mountain constituents.  He wasa man of the mountain and that was just who he was and what he caredabout."

- Sen. Josh Stein

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