On the day following the news of the death of former US Sen. Kay Hagan, the outpouring of praise and love for Hagan continued – with seemingly everyone, in and out of politics, chiming in on Hagan’s contributions, personality and dedication.
Hagan, an attorney, banking executive and 10-year state senator born in Shelby, North Carolina, served for one term as a US senator beginning in 2009. Hagan died on Monday, Oct. 28 at the age of 66, three years after she contracted encephalitis and was diagnosed with “Powassan virus,” a medical condition that ultimately led to her death.
On the news of her passing Monday, Oct. 28, NC Gov. Roy Cooper ordered that US and North Carolina flags be lowered to half-staff through Tuesday evening in honor of the former senator who was beloved by so many constituents, family members, fellow elected leaders and others she worked with.
The widespread national response made it evident how far Hagan’s influence reached despite only serving one term. Major news outlets from NBC’s evening newscast to the Washington Post ran stories – which were joined by remarks of condolence on social media from everyone from former presidents to current presidential contenders to thousands of North Carolina citizens.
Many posted comments about Hagan similar to those of Greensboro musician Evan Olsen on Facebook. Olsen posted a picture of himself with Hagan and wrote that she “was a positive light of hope for many.”
One constant theme that ran through the public comments in the wake of Hagan’s death was Hagan’s utter devotion to North Carolina.
President Bill Clinton wrote of that staunch support of the state.
“Kay Hagan loved the people of North Carolina,” Clinton stated, “and served them with honor, integrity, and skill. I’m saddened by her loss.”
USA Today, which provided a good deal of coverage of Hagan’s passing, quoted Democratic US. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who stated that Hagan “was one bright yellow ray of sunshine for everyone she touched — the Senate, her beloved state of NC, her friends.”
Republican leaders, many of whom battled with Hagan during her political career, were just as kind to Hagan as Democrats were.
NC Rep. Jon Hardister, a Republican, posted on Facebook: “Kay Hagan was a tireless public servant and a great role model for anyone who wishes to enter politics. She has earned a tremendous amount of respect in our community and beyond. I will remember her as a positive, energetic person who worked hard and cared about North Carolina. My thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with her family.”
Those who worked frequently with Hagan also offered great praise. The former head of Guilford County’s mental health services, Billie Martin Pierce noted in a Facebook post that she worked with Hagan for many years on mental health issues. Pierce stated that she sat at the kitchen table with Hagan several times to explain mental health budget issues – “and she understood!” Pierce noted.
Others used the occasion to point out that more needs to be done in the study of tick-borne diseases, the culprit in Hagan’s demise.
Lucie Adams, a Greensboro Facebook poster, suggested that a fund or other program be set up in Hagan’s name to study the diseases and help address the problem, which is a big one in North Carolina.