RUSSELL COUNTY, Va. -- Virginia State Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon) has died from complications from COVID-19, the senator’s office confirmed Friday night.
"The family of Senator Chafin thank the VCU Medical Center in Richmond for its vigorous care and heartfelt support during his two weeks of medical services there," said his office in a statement.
Chafin, who was 60 years old, is the first Virginia lawmaker to die from the virus.
He was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2013 and then moved to the state Senate, where he has represented the 38th district for the past 6 years.
Governor Ralph Northam has released the following statement:
“With the passing of Senator Ben Chafin, Southwest Virginia has lost a strong advocate—and we have all lost a good man."
“I knew Ben as a lawmaker, an attorney, a banker, and a farmer raising beef cattle in Moccasin Valley, working the land just as generations of his family had done before him. He loved the outdoors, and he loved serving people even more. He pushed hard to bring jobs and investment to his district, and I will always be grateful for his courageous vote to expand health care for people who need it."
Northam has ordered the state flag to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on the day of his interment.
Virginia Senate Republicans remembered Chafin as a community leader with an "infectious smile and gregarious manner" as well as a "dedicated colleague who exemplified the best in public service."
“Ben Chafin has left us a legacy of the best in public service. He served to ensure that his region and community, and the people he loved, would never be forgotten," Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) said. "May we cherish his memory by emulating his dedication and commitment.”
Chafin is survived by his wife of 38 years, Lora, three children and his mother and sister.
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