RALEIGH – Former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), who served one term from 2008-2014, died Monday at the age of 66. Hagan had been ill for years, somewhat mysteriously from a public perspective, apparently from a tick-borne sickness that led to brain inflammation.
“We are heartbroken to share that Kay left us unexpectedly this morning,” her family said in a statement, according to the Charlotte Observer. “Kay meant everything to us, and we were honored to share her with the people of North Carolina whom she cared for and fought for so passionately as an elected official. Most of all, we already miss her humor and spirit as the hub of our family, a role she loved more than anything. Nobody could light up a room and make people feel welcome like Kay.”
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) who served with her in the senate, had this to say of Hagan:
Brooke and I are deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely loss of Kay Hagan. Our prayers are with her family.
— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) October 28, 2019
Hagan was hospitalized in 2016 with encephalitis, a swelling of the brain. Test results indicated she had contracted Powassan virus, a virus spread by ticks. The illness was absolutely debilitating, and relatively sudden, but family attested that she recovered enough by late 2017 to recognize friends and understand what they say. She even attended a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this year with her husband.
While in the U.S. Senate, Hagan served on the committees for Armed Services; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. She chaired the Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities and the HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families. And in a throwback to relatively moderate Democrats of yesteryear, Hagan advocated for deficit reduction while in office.
Rest in peace.