Raleigh, N.C. — Jean Preston, who served seven terms in the state House and three in the state Senate before retiring last fall, died Wednesday of complications from a fall while vacationing in Connecticut, according to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger's office.
The 77-year-old Republican represented Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties.
“Jean Preston was a pioneer in the field of special education who dedicated her life to ensuring our children have the brightest future possible,” Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. “As a legislator, Sen. Preston worked tirelessly on education reform and on achieving better results for our students. She was legendary in her district for an amazing work ethic and commitment to providing outstanding constituent service. Sen. Preston was a dear friend, and my colleagues and I will miss her greatly.”
A native of Greene County, Preston spent her career in education, serving as a special education teacher, school administrator and school principal.
She served as co-chair of the Senate Committee on Education/Higher Education and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education/Higher Education. She was the joint Republican caucus leader.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Sen. Jean Preston," House Speaker Thom Tillis said in a statement. "She will be remembered as one of the most well-respected members of the General Assembly and as someone who forged lasting friendships on both sides of the aisle. While she was a tireless advocate on behalf of her constituents and a leader on many important issues, her legacy in the halls of government will be one of kindness, dedication and genuine friendship.”
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jean Preston," Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. She and I became very good friends over the years, and I will miss her. Emerald Isle and all of North Carolina has lost a tremendous leader and committed public servant.”