Remembering state legislators who passed away in 2020

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011, file photo, outgoing Senate leader Marc Basnight speaks to reporters in Raleigh, N.C. Basnight died Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, at age 73. (Shawn Rocco/The News & Observer via AP, File)
Marc Basnight served for 26 years in the state Senate.

Marc Basnight

Marc Basnight, a Dare County native who served in the General Assembly for 26 years, died on Monday, his family and local news outlets confirmed.

Basnight served as Senate president pro tempore from 1993 until 2010.

Gov. Roy Cooper, who served with Basnight for 12 years in the state legislature, said of Basnight, “His positive influence on our public universities, transportation, environment and more will be felt for decades. A man of great power and influence, his humble, common touch made everyone he met feel special, whether pouring them a glass of tea in his restaurant or sharing a pack of nabs at a country store. He believed in North Carolina and its people, and our state is stronger because of him. Our prayers are with Vicki, Caroline and the whole family.”

Basnight resigned his state senate seat due to health issues resulting from a degenerative nerve disease shortly before the 2011 legislative session.

Melanie Wade Goodwin
Former Democratic Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin died on Sept. 1 at the age 50.

FILE – In this May 2008 file photo, state Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin visits with her 11 day-old baby, Jackson, in a nursery she set-up for him at the Legislative Building on the first day of the new session, in Raleigh, N.C. Goodwin, who was the state’s first lawmaker to have a baby while holding office, died Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, at age 50, after being diagnosed with cancer 11 years ago, her husband announced Wednesday, Sept. 2. (Corey Lowenstein/The News & Observer via AP)

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin, her husband, posted on social media that she died “with her children and me by her side” after being diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago.

Goodwin represented parts of Montgomery County and Richmond County in the House from 2005 to 2010. She was the first lawmaker to give birth while holding office in the spring of 2008.  After leaving the legislature, Goodwin served on the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

“She was an amazing mother, wife, lawyer & legislator who fought for working people,” tweeted Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who ordered flags be lowered to half-staff in her memory.

Photo of former senate majority leader Tony Rand courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Tony Rand
Former Democratic state Sen. Tony Rand passed away on May 1 at age 80 due after battling throat cancer. Rand was an attorney and lived in Fayetteville.

During his time in the N.C. Senate from 2001 to 2009, Rand represented Bladen and Cumberland counties and also served as the chamber’s majority leader. He was first appointed to the senate in 1981 and was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 1988, losing to Republican Jim Gardner. In 1995 Rand returned to the senate where he served until his resignation in 2009. He had been instrumental in the controversial passage of the state lottery in 2005.

Rand was appointed chairman of the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission in 2009 by Gov. Bev Perdue, where he served until 2014. He was also appointed chairman of the N.C. Lottery Commission by Gov. Roy Cooper from August 2018 until late 2019, when he resigned for health reasons.

Linda Johnson
On Feb. 18, state Rep. Linda Johnson (R-Cabarrus) died after a battle with cancer, which sources say included brain tumors and related strokes. She was 74 years old.

State Representative Linda Johnson
Photo courtesy of NC House Republican Caucus

Johnson was a Cabarrus County native and served 10 terms in the North Carolina General Assembly. She was a senior House Appropriations Committee chair, a position which made her a leading budget writer for the state, and was also heavily involved in House education policy.

“Linda Johnson had a beloved and infectious spirit that resonated throughout the North Carolina General Assembly every day, and the tragic news of her passing is a terrible loss for our legislative community, her family, and the people she served in Cabarrus County,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) said in a statement.

Maryann Black

Rep. Maryann Black. Photo via NC General Assembly

On March 26, Rep. MaryAnn Black (D-Durham) passed away at age 76 from natural causes tied to a long-term illness, according to family. Prior to her death, she had said she would not be running for re-election this year. Following Black’s death, Democrat Vernetta Alston ran unopposed for the seat in the recent November election.

In February 2017, Cooper appointed Black to replace former Rep. Larry Hall, who resigned in order to take a cabinet position in the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. Black retained the District 29 seat in 2018 by defeating Republican Charles Becker by a wide margin, with 88% of the vote.

Black served as a Durham County commissioner from 1990 to 2002 and was chairwoman for the last six years on the commission. She was also known for her more-than-30 years of work as a social worker providing psychotherapy services to children and families.

About A.P. Dillon 356 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_