State Senator Martin Nesbitt dies from stomach cancer
Posted March 6, 2014
Asheville, N.C. — State Senator Martin Luther Nesbitt, Jr., who stepped down as senate minority leader on Tuesday, died Thursday from complications due to stomach cancer. He was 67.
Well-wishers lined a road near his Asheville home Thursday as Nesbitt returned to his residence in an ambulance.
Nesbitt stepped down from his leadership position to focus on cancer treatment.
“After a recent diagnosis, it has become clear that I will need to take some time in the coming weeks and months to focus on my health," he said in a statement on Tuesday. "This year’s elections are too important to the future of our great state to not have all hands on deck. I am therefore pleased and proud that my friend, Sen. Dan Blue Jr., has agreed to lead the Democratic Caucus while I seek further medical treatment.”
Nesbitt, whose district covered Asheville and most of Buncombe County, began his political career in 1979 when he was appointed to fill his mother’s state House seat after her passing. In 11 terms in the House, Nesbitt became appropriations chairman and a top budget writer before being elected to the state Senate in 2004.
"We wish to express our sincere sympathy at the passing of the Honorable Martin Nesbitt," the state Democratic Party said in a statement. "Our prayers are with his loved ones at this time for they have lost a husband, father and grandfather. The citizens of the State of North Carolina have lost a leader and champion of exemplary and distinguished public service."
Blue offered similar thoughts for Nesbitt, who he has worked with for over three decades.
“Tonight, North Carolina lost a great leader, and I mourn a valued friend," he said in a statement. "Martin always believed in the people of our great state and strove to make North Carolina a better place. I have known and served with Martin for over thirty years and I will greatly miss his friendship, counsel, and candor. Tonight my prayers are with Martin, his family, and the families across North Carolina for whom he worked for so long."
State Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope issued the following statement:
“We are terribly saddened to hear of Senator Nesbitt’s untimely passing. Although we may have disagreed on some issues over the years, Senator Nesbitt was an honorable and dedicated public servant who worked to improve the lives of North Carolinians. Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Nesbitt’s family during this difficult time.”
Nesbitt received his undergraduate and law degrees from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Funeral arrangements, as well as who will assume his Senate seat, have not been announced.
Gov. Pat McCrory ordered all state flags on state facilities to be lowered at half staff in honor of Nesbitt.