North Carolina state senator Martin Nesbitt died Thursday of stomach cancer just days after stepping down as the Senate's minority leader. He was 67 years old.
Nesbitt announced this week that he was stepping aside as minority leader to concentrate on his recovery from a recent medical diagnosis. He never indicated the severity of that diagnosis. It was announced by the state Democratic Party that Sen. Dan Blue would step into the role of leading the Senate's Democrats
Nesbitt returned to Asheville on Wednesday. He was greeted by a large number well wishers. The Associated Press reported that he arrived at home by ambulance.
The state Democratic Party released a statement Thursday evening. The statement read in part:
"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."
Governor Pat McCrory said of Nesbitt upon hearing of his death that Nesbitt was "a true professional in everything that he did. We join his family in mourning his loss."
Republican senate leader Phil Berger praised Nesbitt in his own statement released Thursday night.
“The North Carolina Senate has lost one of its most experienced and dedicated leaders," Berger said. "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.”
Funeral and memorial arrangements have not been finalized.