N.C. Sen. Martin Nesbitt, known as a man of the people who fought for the rights of the young, the elderly and the disadvantaged, died on Thursday. He was 67. He died of stomach cancer, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Nesbitt’s funeral is set for Tuesday at Biltmore Baptist Church.
Nesbitt, who got his start by filling the unexpired state House term of his mother who died at 67, also died in office at 67.
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Led by a populism now lost in an era of partisanship, Nesbitt became a leading voice for mental health, education and the working poor.
“He was a giant figure,” said Sen. Dan Blue, a former House speaker who entered the legislature about the same time as Nesbitt. “He had a sense of mountain populism that ran through him and he sensed that his major charge was to look out for the average everyday person.”
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who served with Nesbitt in the legislature, said, “North Carolina has lost a great leader.”
“Martin was a fierce defender of his values, a champion for mental health, and a strong advocate for North Carolina’s children and public education system,” she said.
There are already discussions underway about who will be appointed to fill Nesbitt’s term. More on that soon.