State Sen. Jim Forrester passes away

Posted October 31, 2011

— State Sen. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, passed away Monday. He was 74.

The 11-term senator had suffered from health problems for some time before falling ill over the weekend. He had been on life support since Sunday. Doctors suspect he might have had a stroke.

One of his daughters, Mary Paige, answered the phone at the Forrester home Monday afternoon.

"He died peacefully at approximately noon today," Paige said. "He was taken off of life support shortly after 11. It was very quiet and very peaceful. His entire family was around him."

"He was one of the greatest men who ever lived, not just a great father. He did great things for many people. He will be missed, not just today," she said tearfully. "Today, he’s in heaven, playing golf with his father that he never knew, and he’s surrounded by his family. That’s all he ever wanted."

Funeral arrangements are pending, Paige said.

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes called Forrester “a dear friend who I respected and admired. He had a long and distinguished career serving the people of North Carolina."

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Forrester's life "embodied the American dream," noting that he emigrated from Scotland after World War II, served as a flight surgeon during the Vietnam War and retired from the Air Force as a brigadier general.

"Through the years, he received numerous awards from groups that covered the ideological spectrum recognizing his outstanding legislative work," Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. "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.”

House Speaker Thom Tillis called Forrester a dedicated public servant.

"Sen. Jim Forrester was a dear friend and a trusted colleague," Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said in a statement. "Our state will not be the same without him."

Condolences for Forrester crossed the political aisle.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who serves as president of the Senate, said that Forrester served his constituents well.

"He represented Cleveland County before I did in the Senate, and he always worked hard for his constituents," Dalton said in a statement. "Sen. Forrester dedicated his life to public service – in the military, as a physician and as an elected official.”

Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt and Sen. Bill Purcell, D-Scotland, said Forrester's background as a physician helped shape health-related debates in the General Assembly.

"Although we come from different political parties and often had differing opinions, we hold great respect for Jim and called him a friend," Nesbitt and Purcell said in a statement. "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."

Forrester was elected deputy Senate leader this year – a largely ceremonial post – as the GOP controlled the chamber for the first time in more than a century. He earned a legislative victory in September when the General Assembly approved a May statewide constitutional referendum on whether to ban gay marriage in North Carolina.

He also made headlines recently for calling Asheville "a cesspool of sin" and came under scrutiny after allegations that he might have misrepresented himself on his resume. He said the errors were inadvertent.


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  • pebbles262004 Nov 1, 2011

    Sorry for the pasting of your Father...May you find peace at this time..

  • gunin4truth Nov 1, 2011

    Perhaps he was a good man in his time but that time has long gone – Haggis

    While it certainly happened, I don’t remember a time when someone miss-using their medical back ground to legitimize and promote hatred was considered being a good man.

    History will view him and others like him as the bigoted, lying person he really was!

  • geoherb1 Nov 1, 2011

    "The evil that men do lives after them." No matter how kind and generous he was, he was still the fomenter of ignorance, intolerance and hate. I'm sorry he died too soon to see that North Carolinians have outgrown his brand of politics.

  • haggis basher Nov 1, 2011

    "I honor this man for representing the values and ideals that this great country of ours was founded upon and once stood for."

    Dying doesn't change what he was. Perhaps he was a good man in his time but that time has long gone.

  • haggis basher Nov 1, 2011

    Being a Scot he can't have be all bad ............ but should have retired long ago.

  • cam7002 Oct 31, 2011

    This man sowed the seeds of hatred with this referendum on gay marriage, and he chose to impose his religious beliefs on those he was supposed to serve. There is no place in politics for religion, and I hope his replacement will keep religion out of it.

  • peharris Oct 31, 2011

    My condolences to the Family! I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Forrester a few times in the past. He was a good man - we need more like him.

  • flashsparks Oct 31, 2011

    I too want to express my condolences to Forrester's family and friends. I am encouraged that so many of the comments in the story and here on GoLo of people on the other side of the political spectrum are positive.

    Of course, there's got to be at least one bad apple in the group falsely accusing the man of furthering "his hateful anti gay agenda". garychapelhill, the only hate is coming from you. Very sad.

  • garychapelhill Oct 31, 2011

    Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt and Sen. Bill Purcell, D-Scotland, said Forrester's background as a physician helped shape health-related debates in the General Assembly

    Except when he was misprespresenting medical research to further his hateful anti gay agenda.

  • LuvLivingInCary Oct 31, 2011

    another good soul who believed in principals. we need more like him and jessie helms.