NBC12: ‘He was always there’: Tributes pour in for McEachin


Friends, family and the community are remembering the life of Congressman Donald McEachin.

The Virginia Democrat, who represented the Richmond area in Washington, D.C., died Monday after a battle with colorectal cancer.

State Del. Lamont Bagby and State Sen. Jennifer McClellan were emotional Tuesday over the news.

“He was a giant teddy bear, and he was always there. Like no matter what was going on he was always there,” said McClellan.

McEachin was a mentor and friend to McClellan and Bagby.

He attended Bagby’s wedding recently.

“And made sure he text me not only after the wedding, but then about a week ago, a community center in my neighborhood was named after me. He emailed me and told me how proud he was of me. And I owe him a lot,” said Bagby.

In a statement overnight, McEachin’s chief of staff said he had fought the secondary effects of his cancer diagnosis.

McEachin had been at a staff retreat earlier in the day. The 4th District congressman was 61 years old.

“I’ve heard people call him a gentle giant. You know he was beyond that. His presence ate up the energy in the room,” said Henrico County Supervisor and McEachin’s friend Tyrone Nelson.

McEachin encouraged Nelson and Richmond City Councilor Mike Jones to get into politics and run for office.

“He was a champion for the little people. He was a champion for the least and the left out. He fought for everybody,” said Jones.

In Congress, McEachin focused on climate change legislation, and protecting natural resources, among others.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine has known him since the mid-1980′s.

“Some of the most significant environmental damage in our society is damage inflicted upon low-income and minorities communities. Poorer air quality, for example, that then leads to poorer health outcomes, and Donald was really passionate and articulate about that,” said Kaine.

McEachin was a member of the state House of Delegates starting in 1996 before becoming a state senator from 2008 to 2016.

He was preparing to serve a fourth term in Congress before his passing.

“Unfortunately his voice, his common sense and his just compassion will be missed in Congress,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, McEachin’s friend.

The congressman is survived by his wife, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin, and their three daughters.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. In lieu of flowers, the family asks residents to consider a donation to The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in memory of A. Donald McEachin.

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