Colleagues of the late Senator Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, visited his legislative office this afternoon to offer their condolences on his passing. Outside the office door, a flower arrangement with an American flag hung above a stand with a book for messages to the family.
House Majority Leader Skip Stam called Forrester "a steadying influence" who "stuck in with it a long time." Of Forrester's 11 terms in office, he was in the majority for only one year - this year.
Stam said Forrester, who had been in failing health for some time, was happy to see the legislature approve a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions. Forrester had sponsored the bill for years, but the Senate's former Democratic leaders wouldn't bring it up for debate.
"He was real glad to be here and vote on it," Stam said. "It passed by one vote, and that was his vote."
Senate Leader Phil Berger said via email that Forrester, who was born in Scotland in 1937 and emigrated to the US after World War II, "embodied the American Dream.”
"Through the years, he received numerous awards from groups that covered the ideological spectrum recognizing his outstanding legislative work," said Berger. "I will remember him most for his dedicated and thoughtful service as he worked to make sure his constituents had the chance to fulfill the American Dream.”
Senate Democrats sent their condolences, too, in a message from Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt and fellow retired physician Bill Purcell:
"We had the honor to work with Senator Forrester during his tenure in the state Senate and know that he always worked hard for the citizens of his district. Although we come from different political parties and often had differing opinions, we hold great respect for Jim and called him a friend," Purcell and Nesbitt said.
"We worked with him closely on the Health and Human Services Committee over the years and as a doctor he brought a necessary level of expertise to Senate deliberations on health care matters. We are deeply saddened to hear of his passing and our thoughts go out to his family. He will be missed in the state Senate," read the statement.
Senate President Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton also sent his condolences.
“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Jim Forrester. He represented Cleveland County before I did in the Senate and he always worked hard for his constituents," Dalton said. "Senator Forrester dedicated his life to public service—in the military, as a physician, and as an elected official. Lucille and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the Forrester family.”