• Rep. Donald McEachin died Monday, following a colorectal cancer battle
  • He was first diagnosed in 2013
  • A special election will be held to find his replacement to the district seat

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., has died, his office announced Monday. He was 61 and was hounded by several health issues since 2013 when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

"Valiantly for years now, we have watched him fight and triumph over the secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013," his chief of staff Tara Rountree said in a statement, adding, "tonight, he lost that battle."

Survived by Colette McEachin, his wife of 36 years, and three adult children, the congressman was a noted environmentalist and climate change warrior. In July, the congressional committee passed the historic Environmental Justice For All Act, introduced by him. The act is rooted in the moral principle that all people have the right to pure air, clean water, and an environment that enriches life.

"Environmental injustice harms every American, but it disproportionately impacts low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and Indigenous communities. It is past time Congress takes decisive action to address long-standing inequities," he said at the time.

"Today, we took the next step in that process by passing the Environmental Justice for All Act out of committee. I thank Chair Grijalva for his leadership and collaboration on this important piece of legislation, and I look forward to supporting it on the House floor," McEachin added.

He was first elected to Congress in 2016 and was re-elected to his Richmond-based district in the midterms earlier this month. McEachin had defeated his Republican challenger Leon Benjamin after securing 64 percent of votes.

"We don't do this for glory or fame, we do this because we like service," he had said following his recent victory. While his replacement for the district seat will be found through a special election in the near future, the people that he served, his friends, and his colleagues will forever remember him.

"I am devastated to hear the news that we have lost my friend and colleague, Congressman Donald McEachin. My deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, staff, and constituents," Nevada's Congressman Rep. Steven Horsford tweeted.

"I met Donald McEachin in 1985–we became fast friends. 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," Senator Tim Kaine tweeted.

"It's so sad to learn of the passing of @RepMcEachin. A valiant fighter until the end, he admirably served Virginia & worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his constituents & Americans. Suzanne & I are thinking of his family, friends, & community during this difficult time," Virginia's GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin said.

"I had the honor of briefly meeting Congressman Donald McEachin during his advocacy for the EJ4All Act. He was humble, observant, and genuinely dedicated to our communities. The valiant heart of a faithful public servant. Thank you for your veracity and life it was an honor, sir," read another tweet.

McEachin's office will remain open and will continue to serve the constituents till a representative is elected, Rountree said in the statement. "The family asks for privacy at this time. Arrangements will be announced over the next few days," she added.

The Virginia State Capitol, the seat of state government of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is pictured in Richmond
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