Former US senator, Kay Hagan, who was the first female Democrat to represent her state, died at her home in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Monday, October 28, after a protracted illness. She was aged 66.

Hagan left a thriving banking career to be a stay-at-home mother before venturing into politics. She won a seat as a Democrat in the North Carolina State Senate in 1998 after defeating Elizabeth Dole in a keenly contested election. She then worked in the US Senate from 2009 to 2015. She was a committed Democrat who, unfortunately, lost a reelection bid to Republican Senator Thom Tillis in November 2014.

Tributes pour out for the Senator Kay Hagan

Reacting to the news of her death, Senator Thom Tillis revealed, in a tweet on Monday, that he was heartbroken. He regarded Senator Hagan as a dedicated and distinguished patriot. In a statement, Kay Hagan's family revealed they would miss her good sense of humor and spirit. They expressed gratitude to those showing support as they mourn the passing away of their loved one.

Former Vice President Joe Biden also said in a statement that he had paid Hagan a visit in Durham, North Carolina, on Sunday. According to him, Hagan would be remembered as a courageous woman with incredible dignity and character despite her short life-span.

Former President Barack Obama was not left out.

Offering his condolences to Hagan’s family, he described Kay Hagan as a ‘terrific public servant’ whom he worked with while in service.

Reports of the cause Kay Hagan's death uncovered

According to The News & record reports, Kay Hagan fell ill when she was in Washington in 2016. She got admitted to a hospital. She was diagnosed to be suffering from encephalitis- a condition of inflammatory brain.

They also reported that this illness resulted in more complications. So she had to be restricted to months-long hospitalization in an Atlanta rehabilitation medical center. They added that her family said the illness emanated from the Powassan virus, transmitted by ticks to people. They also reported that her husband said that she had speech incapability, which caused standing and walking problems.

In June this year, Hagan had appeared publicly at a spectacular ceremony in honor of the air traffic control in the state amidst her failing health condition. This was a project she was credited to develop while serving in Congress.

A dive into how Kay Hagan got into politics

Kay Hagan, who was born in Shelby, North Carolina, on May 26, 1953, spent most of her childhood in Lakeland, Florida. Showing interest in politics, she worked on the mayoral campaigns of her father, Joe Ruthven, while in Florida. She also assisted with the campaigns for her maternal uncle, former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles.

She has a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in 1975. She earned a law degree from Wake Forest University three years later.

Hagan worked for NationsBank, now Bank of America, for ten years. Then she rose to become a vice president in the estates and trust division. She is survived by her husband, Chip Hagan, children- Jeanette Hagan, Tilden Hagan, and Carrie Hagan Stewart, together with two siblings and five grandchildren.