Breaking News
More () »

Charlotte's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Charlotte, North Carolina | WCNC.com

Family, friends remember former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan At funeral service

The funeral for former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan was held at First Presbyterian Church In Greensboro Sunday afternoon.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The funeral for former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan was held Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro. A visitation followed the service at Mullin Life Center on North Greene St., also in Greensboro.

Governor Roy Cooper, former Governor Jim Hunt, US Senator Richard Burr, Presidential Candidate Amy Kloubuchar and Former Senator Claire McCaskill are just a few of the dignitaries who came to Greensboro to remember Former Senator Kay Hagan.

"She was substantive, head down, hard work. no grand stander. no sharp elbows. laboring to elevate the voices that had no lobbiests," McCaskill said. "Fierce intellance, and a doggedness that was discussed by her good manners. underestimated constantly, she fought back with determination and a spine of steal. "

Hagan died at her home in Greensboro of encephalitis, or brain inflammation, caused by a rare virus spread from ticks to humans, said her former Senate spokeswoman, Sadie Weiner. Hagan contracted the Powassan virus in late 2016, and the subsequent brain inflammation made speaking and walking difficult for her.

"Kay was a spark plug, just no other way to describe it," Governor Roy Cooper said. "You could spend one day, one hour, one minute with Kay. Didn't matter. You'd see right away her strengths, her smarts, her commitment to public service."

 Kay Hagan: Mom, Grandmother, Senator, Leader, Inspiring Voice for Women and Democrats

Hagan's son talked about her friendly nature.

"Mom either knew or made it a point to know everyone everywhere she went. I always felt bad for whoever on mom's staff was in charge of an event. she couldn't leave without saying goodbye to every person there. She wanted everyone there to know they were special to her," he said.

Hagan was born in Shelby, North Carolina, on May 26, 1953. She spent most of her childhood in Lakeland, Florida, where she worked on the mayoral campaigns of her father, Joe Ruthven. She also helped campaign for her maternal uncle, former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles. She earned her undergraduate degree from Florida State University in 1975, then earned a law degree from Wake Forest University three years later.

RELATED: Former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan Dies at 66

For 10 years, Hagan worked for NationsBank, which was to become Bank of America, where she became a vice president in the estates and trust division. After being a stay-at-home mother, Hagan launched her own political career and won a seat as a Democrat in the North Carolina state Senate in 1998.

Ten years later, the still largely unknown state legislator sought and won the U.S. Senate seat held by Dole.

Though initially reluctant, Hagan backed the Affordable Care Act pushed by Obama. She also worked to limit payday lending, continuing the effort she began as a state senator.

In addition to her father, Hagan is survived by her husband, Charles "Chip" Hagan, and three children: Jeanette Hagan, Tilden Hagan and Carrie Hagan Stewart. She's also survived by two siblings and five grandchildren.

RELATED: ‘She Was A Fierce Advocate For North Carolina,’ Lawmakers Remember Former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan