NC Senator Martin Nesbitt dies of stomach cancer - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

NC Senator Martin Nesbitt dies of stomach cancer

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Sen. Martin Nesbitt passed away on Thursday from stomach cancer Sen. Martin Nesbitt passed away on Thursday from stomach cancer

SWANNANOA, NC (AP/WECT) - State Sen. Martin Nesbitt, who this week stepped down as minority leader because of illness, has died. He was 67.

Senate Democratic Caucus Director Ford Porter said Nesbitt died Thursday after being diagnosed last week with stomach cancer.

It was on Wednesday that a group of well-wishers lined a road near Interstate 40 to welcome the Asheville lawmaker home. He arrived back home in an ambulance.

Nesbitt had served in the Legislature since the early 1980s. He became majority leader in 2009 when Democrats controlled the Senate and after Sen. Tony Rand left the Legislature. He became minority leader in 2011 when Republicans took over the chamber.

A statement from the state Democratic Party said North Carolina has lost a leader and champion of exemplary and distinguished public service.

Statements came in from both sides of the aisle remembering Sen. Nesbitt's service in the General Assembly.

"Tonight, North Carolina lost a great leader, and I mourn a valued friend. Martin always believed in the people of our great state and strove to make North Carolina a better place. I have known and served with Martin for over thirty 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," Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue, Jr. said in a news release.

"The North Carolina Senate has lost one of its most experienced and dedicated leaders. 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," said Senate Leader Phil Berger.

The North Carolina Democratic Party released this statement: 

"We wish to express our sincere sympathy at the passing of the Honorable Martin Nesbitt. Our prayers are with his loved ones at this time for they have lost a husband, father and grandfather. The citizens of the State of North Carolina have lost a leader and champion of exemplary and distinguished public service. The poet Mary Lee Hall, in "Turn Again to Life", wrote:

"If I should die and leave you here a while, be not like others sore undone, who keep long vigil by the silent dust. For my sake turn again to life and smile, nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do something to comfort other hearts than thine. Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine and I perchance may therein comfort you."
We, the fellow Democrats who worked with and supported Senator 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."

Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.  AP contributed to this report.

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