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State Senator Martin Nesbitt Dies at 67

Sen. Martin Nesbitt

North Carolina state senator Martin Nesbitt died Thursday of stomach cancer just days after stepping down as the Senate's minority leader.  He was 67 years old.
Nesbitt was first appointed to the state House in 1979 to finish the term for his mother, Mary Nesbitt, after her passing.  He rose to appropriations chairman and top budget writer in the 1990’s and began serving in the Senate in 2004. Nesbitt's peers elected him Senate Majority Leader in 2009.  After the Republican takeover in 2010, he was elected Minority Leader. 

Nesbitt announced this week that he was stepping aside as minority leader to concentrate on his recovery from a recent medical diagnosis.   He never indicated the severity of that diagnosis.  It was announced by the state Democratic Party that Sen. Dan Blue would step into the role of leading the Senate's Democrats

Nesbitt returned to Asheville on Wednesday.  He was greeted by a large number well wishers.  The Associated Press reported that he arrived at home by ambulance.   

The state Democratic Party released a statement Thursday evening.  The statement read in part:

"We wish to express our sincere sympathy at the passing of the Honorable Martin Nesbitt. Our prayers are with his loved ones at this time for they have lost a husband, father and grandfather. The citizens of the State of North Carolina have lost a leader and champion of exemplary and distinguished public service."

Governor Pat McCrory said of Nesbitt upon hearing of his death that Nesbitt was "a true professional in everything that he did. We join his family in mourning his loss." 

Republican senate leader Phil Berger praised Nesbitt in his own statement released Thursday night.

“The North Carolina Senate has lost one of its most experienced and dedicated leaders," Berger said.  "Sen. Martin Nesbitt cared deeply about people and spent a lifetime fighting for what he believed would make North Carolina a better place. His passing leaves a deep void in our Senate family. I ask everyone to keep his loved ones in their prayers.”

Funeral and memorial arrangements have not been finalized.

Gurnal Scott joined North Carolina Public Radio in March 2012 after several stops in radio and television. After graduating from the College of Charleston in his South Carolina hometown, he began his career in radio there. He started as a sports reporter at News/Talk Radio WTMA and won five Sportscaster of the Year awards. In 1997, Gurnal moved on to television as general assignment reporter and weekend anchor for WCSC-TV in Charleston. He anchored the market's top-rated weekend newscasts until leaving Charleston for Memphis, TN in 2002. Gurnal worked at WPTY-TV for two years before returning to his roots in radio. He joined the staff of Memphis' NewsRadio 600 WREC in 2004 eventually rising to News Director. In 2006, Raleigh news radio station WPTF came calling and he became the station's chief correspondent. Gurnal’s reporting has been honored by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, the North Carolina Associated Press, and the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas.
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