Published On: Tue, Nov 29th, 2022

‘Tonight, he lost that battle’: Congressman Donald McEachin dies at 61

Virginia Congressman Donald McEachin died on Monday at age 61, weeks after winning a fourth term representing all of Richmond, parts of Henrico and Chesterfield counties, and the Tri-Cities area in the 4th Congressional District.

McEachin’s death was sudden, but his illness was not. He had been suffering from the after-effects from the successful treatment of colorectal cancer eight years ago.

“We are all devastated at the passing of our boss and friend, Congressman Donald McEachin,” Tara Rountree, the Democratic congressman’s chief of staff, said in a statement on Monday night.

“Valiantly, for years now, we have watched him fight and triumph over the secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013,” Rountree said. “Tonight, he lost that battle and the people of Virginia’s Fourth Congressional district lost a hero who always, always fought for them and put them first.”

McEachin, who was elected twice to the House of Delegates and served nine years in the Senate, had just defeated Republican Leon Benjamin on Nov. 8 for the second time. His fourth term was scheduled to begin in January.

U.S. Rep A. Donald McEachin, D-4th, during an interview with reporters and editors at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in Richmond, June 14, 2019.BOB BROWN

“Until a new representative is elected, our office will remain open and continue to serve our constituents,” Rountree said.

His wife, Colette, is Richmond’s commonwealth’s attorney. McEachin, a lawyer who lived in South Richmond, also leaves behind a son and two daughters.

“The family asks for privacy at this time,” Rountree said. “Arrangements will be announced over the next few days.”

McEachin, who stood 6 feet 5 inches tall, revealed in 2018 that he had developed a fistula — an abnormal connection between the bladder and colon — as the result of cancer surgery.

He lost 60 pounds and underwent a number of surgeries to correct the condition, which he treated as  temporary and not an obstacle to his work in the House of Representatives.

McEachin was first elected to congress in 2016 after a court ordered redistricting of the 4th District as part of its response to alleged racial gerrymandering of the 3rd District by General Assembly Republicans.

The 4th District now includes all or part of 15 cities and counties, stretching from Richmond to Brunswick, Greensville and Southampton counties. It gets about three-fourths of its votes from Richmond and from eastern Henrico and eastern Chesterfield.

A. Donald McEachin taken 09/11/1991 by Bob BrownBOB BROWN

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-3rd, hailed McEachin’s legacy as “a trailblazer in Virginia politics” as the first African American to run as the nominee of a major party for attorney general in 2001, ultimately losing to Republican Jerry Kilgore, and as the third to be elected to Congress from the state.

(John Mercer Langston, elected in 1888 to represent the 4th District, was Virginia’s first African American in Congress. Scott became the second 105 years later.)

Richmond Times – Dispatch provided this article. For more articles like this please visit

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