newscongressman donald mceachin passes after long battle with colorectal cancer

Congressman Donald McEachin passes after long battle with colorectal cancer

Chris Graham
Donald McEachin
(© Eli Wilson – Shutterstock)

Fourth District Congressman Donald McEachin died on Monday at the age of 61 after a battle with colorectal cancer.

The former state delegate and state senator was elected to Congress to represent the Fourth District in 2016, and had just won re-election to a fourth term earlier this month.

McEachin’s death was from the secondary effects of a colorectal cancer diagnosis from 2013, according to a statement from his chief of staff, Tara Rountree.

“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,” Rountree said.

McEachin was an alum of American University, had his law degree from the University of Virginia, and also earned a master of divinity from Virginia Union.

He served three terms in the Virginia House of Delegates beginning in 1995, and was the Democratic Party nominee for attorney general in 2001, losing that year to Republican Jerry Kilgore.

He would be elected to the House of Delegates again in 2005, then won a State Senate seat in 2007, and served there until his election to Congress in 2016.

He is survived by his wife, Colette, and the couple’s three children.

“Donald and Colette McEachin have been wonderful friends to me and Lisa for more than 30 years,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement. “We often bonded over stories and laughs about our mutual challenges raising families with three strong-willed daughters.

“Up until the very end, Don was a fighter,” Warner said. “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.”

“I met Donald McEachin in 1985, and we became fast friends,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine. “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.

“I was last with him on election night three weeks ago, celebrating his win,” Kaine said. “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. ‘Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise.’ Psalm 90:12.”

“The loss of Donald McEachin is heartbreaking,” Eighth District Congressman Don Beyer said. “We have been friends for many years, and in all the time I’ve known him he has been a fighter. He fought for families, for children, and for the needy. As a public servant he fought for his community and his constituents. Even as he became one of the leading champions for environmental justice in Congress, he was fighting a quiet, difficult battle with cancer.

“Donald McEachin was a great son of Virginia, and his absence will leave a hole that cannot be repaired. I send my condolences to all who loved him, especially his wife Colette and their children,” Beyer said.

“Tonight, I am mourning my friend, colleague and mentor, Congressman Donald McEachin,” Seventh District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger said. “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. He brought his passion for people, his sense of humor, and his abiding faith in God to his work every day — and he was a relentless advocate for those who needed a voice, our natural resources, and the people he represented.

“Congressman McEachin’s passing leaves a deep void here in Virginia. But his example of leadership, his generosity of spirit, and his commitment to doing right in the world and rectifying injustices will endure for everyone whose lives he has touched — including mine. He will be greatly missed across the Commonwealth and on Capitol Hill. Adam and I are keeping his wife Colette, his daughters, and his beloved grandson in our prayers — and we are thinking of his family during this difficult time as we remember A. Donald McEachin’s legacy.

“Godspeed my friend, my brother, and my neighbor,” Spanberger said.

“A dear friend and trusted colleague, Don dedicated his life to public service and made a difference for the people of Virginia in Congress and in the General Assembly,” Second District Congresswoman Elaine Luria said. “He fought every day for his constituents and the Commonwealth and gave a voice to our most vulnerable citizens.

“There is no doubt that Don’s service made Virginia and our country a better place for all, and he will be dearly missed. I am keeping his wife Colette, his family, friends, and staff in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Luria said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris has won 17 Virginia Press Association awards for his work as an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist. Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, Want to reach Chris? Try [email protected].