Rep. Donald Payne 1934-2012

220px-Donald_Payne,_Official_Portrait,_c122th_CongressNew Jersey’s first African-American member of Congress has died of colon cancer at the age of 77. We wish his family and close friends, and the thousands of people he has represented in Congress for 23 years our greatest sympathies.

The congressman was flown home from Washington several days ago by medical transport after announcing just weeks earlier that he was being treated for colon cancer. Colleagues had already noticed a weight loss, but Payne said publicly that he intended to serve out his term and was not expecting to step down.

Payne has been in hospice care for several days, after being hospitalized in Washington, then flown back in a special medically-equipped plane to Teterboro Airport, then transferred to Barnabas Medical Center.

Payne was the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health in House Foreign Affairs, and had traveled many times to Africa. He also served on subcommittees on early childhood, elementary and secondary education and in workforce protections. He was a member of both the Congressional Black Caucus & Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

The Paynes are a legacy family in Essex County Democratic politics. His son, Donald M. Payne, Jr., is current Council President in Newark and an Essex County Freeholder. His brother, William served in the NJ Assembly from 1998 to 2008, and his nephew, Craig A. Stanley, served 12 years in the Assembly starting 1996.

When we know the Congressman’s memorial details, we will share them here.  

Comments (17)

  1. Adam L

    Rest in peace….

  2. Jeff Gardner

    Congressman Payne will truly be missed. Of all the guests we had on Blue Jersey Radio over the years, few were as interesting and engaging as Donald Payne in February 2010, a great progressive leader who will be long remembered.

  3. 12mileseastofTrenton

    He will be missed.

  4. zi985

    RIP Congressman Payne.  I met him once at an event in a Newark charter school with then-Governor Corzine, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Senators Mendenez and Lautenberg, and Congressmen Holt and I could instantly tell how nice of a person he was.  He’ll be missed.

  5. Hopeful

    My sympathies to his family.

  6. Alex

    The death of Congressman Payne, a man who obviously did so much for the causes of human, civil and worker rights, is not only a tragedy for his immediate family but a very real loss for the entire country.

    I’m also struck by the cruel irony that colon cancer has claimed his life precisely now in March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death to cancer in the United States, something which should prompt all of us to educate ourselves about it. The American Cancer Society projects that this year over 140,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer and almost 52,000 will die from it. Here in New Jersey alone, 1600 people are expected to die from colorectal cancer in 2012. I’m very sorry to learn that Congressman Payne was one of those people.

  7. War Horse

    His loss is not just New Jersey’s but the entire country’s as well.

  8. brettski55

    Our thoughts & prayers are with his family. As has been said, he will be missed. God Bless.  

  9. johnleesandiego

    Godpseed valiant warrior of the common people. Your king has called you home, may you rest in perpetual glory in His care evermore.

  10. Jay Lassiter

    So sad to learn this news. It sent me to the archives to an interview with Congressman Payne about the genocide in Darfur. This is 5 1/2 years ago in late 2006, shortly after the Democrats regained control of Congress.

  11. Hopeful

    “Congressman Donald Payne was my good friend and a trailblazer in our state who opened the door for African Americans in New Jersey to excel in public service.  Congressman Payne was so conscientious of people’s lives and always focused on those who needed the most help.  His passing is a loss for Newark and the people he represented and fought for in New Jersey, across the country and around the world.  Donald Payne will be missed, but his work will not be forgotten and his legacy will live forever.”  

  12. Hopeful

    “Congressman Payne broke barriers in New Jersey, not with brute force but with attention and empathy for the embattled masses. He was a man of conviction and courage, and we will miss him.”

  13. southernbluedog

    I never met the man, but my prayers go out to his family.

    I really don’t have much more to say, so I apologize for sounding rude.

    The one thing I will ask: in Rep. Payne’s honor, can an attempt be made to keep this thread at the top of the front page as much as possible? That will allow people like me to continue to read stories about the way the man lived his life.

    I’d also like to see that be the norm for when anything like this happens to an elected official.

  14. Babs NJSD

    He was statesman-like and also down to earth. I met him several times at Democratic events in Atlantic City… we even danced together at one of the “old time” parties. His DC office was always responsive.  The one time we met  in his Newark office to clarify and educate and move him on an issue … he “got it” and later, at a Committee hearing in DC in which I was present, said something that moved me, personally, in a most positive way.

    He will be missed!

  15. Dvd Avins

    A man who used politic to make a positive difference. May many more follow his example in that.

  16. Blue12345

    This man is a model of a well lived life.  He gave his all to NJ.  May he R.I.P.

  17. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    That was at a meeting to advocate single-payer health coverage. He spoke and stuck around for questions. He was most certainly around friends.  


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