Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin Jr. has died after contracting Covid-19, according to a statement from his office. He was 60 years old.
“State Senator Augustus Benton (Ben) Chafin, Jr., a native son of Russell County located in Southwest Virginia, passed away on January 1, 2021 from Covid-19 complications,” the statement said.
The Republican lawmaker’s family thanked the VCU Medical Center in Richmond for “its vigorous care and heartfelt support during his two weeks of medical services there.”
Chafin, a cattle farmer and attorney, served Virginia’s 38th District. He was elected to the state’s House of Delegates in 2013 before moving to the Senate in 2014.
His office remembered him Friday as “a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, economic development and health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income Virginians.”
“He advocated jobs in his district, particularly in the coalfields where the decline of coal has devastated local economies,” the statement said.
In honor of Chafin, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the state flag atop Virginia’s Capitol to fly at half-staff until the senator’s interment.
“I knew Ben as a lawmaker, an attorney, a banker, and a farmer raising beef cattle in Moccasin Valley, working the land just as generations of his family had done before him,” Northam said in a statement. “He loved the outdoors, and he loved serving people even more. He pushed hard to bring jobs and investment to his district, and I will always be grateful for his courageous vote to expand health care for people who need it.”
The governor added, “This is sad news to begin a new year with the loss of a kind and gracious man. May we all recommit to taking extra steps to care for one another.”
Chafin is survived by his mother, sister, wife, three children and grandchildren.