Mourners gather at funeral service to honor life and legacy of former US Sen. Kay Hagan

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The funeral for Kay Hagan, a former U.S. Senator from North Carolina and Shelby-native, was held Sunday.

The funeral service began at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Chruch at 617 N. Elm St. in Greensboro.

She died on Monday from complications from the deadly Powassan virus.

Members of Hagan’s family, NC Governor Roy Copper and Senator Claire McCaskill made remarks during the service.

“There are young women on my staff that would not be there if it weren’t for Kay Hagan,” Gov. Cooper said. “When Kay ran for U.S. Senate, we found out that we had struck gold.”

He explained that the former senator left life lessons that surpassed the political sphere. The most important: “focus on what matters; laugh . . . life is funny; try and turn tragedy into triumph.”

Her former senate colleague Clair McCaskill of Missouri choked back tears as she reminded the public how Hagan fought for what she knew was right.

“Working her hardest to take care of the state,” McCaskill said in front of a packed church Sunday afternoon.

Hagan’s son and daughters addressed the tearful crowd.

“The mom who sang to you when you had a nightmare, and a mom who loved us dearly,” said Tilden Hagan IV, her son, as he fought back tears. “Mom, thank you for being Mamma K.’”

He explained that the woman who shook so many hands and gave out hugs for decades was the same woman who they saw at home every day.

“She wanted everyone to know that they were special to her and she had to say a personal goodbye,” Tilden said.

“Kay meant everything to us, and we were honored to share her with the people of North Carolina whom she cared for and fought for so passionately as an elected official. Most of all, we already miss her humor and spirit as the hub of our family, a role she loved more than anything. Nobody could light up a room and make people feel welcome like Kay,” her family said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful for the support shared with our family as Kay worked to regain her strength these last few years after her illness, and we appreciate your continued prayers.”

Hagan, a Democrat, served as a Senator from 2009 to 2015.

She previously served in the North Carolina Senate from 1999 to 2009.

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Gov. Cooper ordered all U.S. and N.C. flags at state buildings, facilities and grounds to be lowered to half-staff through sunset Tuesday in Hagan's honor. He said in a statement:

"Kristin and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend Senator Kay Hagan. I’ve known Kay since our days in the legislature together. Kay was a fierce advocate for North Carolina, and she represented our state with courage and grace her entire career. She made it a mission to inspire young people - especially young girls - to enter public service, and she served as a role model to so many. North Carolina is mourning one of our best today."

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said:

“Brooke and I are deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely loss of Kay Hagan. Kay dedicated much of her life to serving North Carolina, and she will be remembered for her tireless work on behalf of the home and the people she loved. In our time as Senate colleagues, we worked across the aisle together frequently on issues that we both knew would determine what type of country our children would inherit, from conservation to our common defense. She tackled everything she did with a passion and a sense of humor that will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said:

“Susan and I are absolutely heartbroken by Senator Kay Hagan’s sudden passing and we extend our condolences and prayers to her loving family and many friends. We join all North Carolinians in remembering her dedicated and distinguished record of public service to our state and nation.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who represents the 6th district of North Carolina, said in a statement:

“My heart goes out to Chip Hagan and the entire Hagan family in the passing of Kay. Sen. Hagan was dedicated to serving North Carolinians and especially to the men and women of the Armed Forces in America’s most military-friendly state. Chip has exemplified the devotion, love and care that every husband should aspire to.”

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said:

"Senator Hagan lived her life with grace and dignity. She was an inspiration for me and other women navigating political and professional priorities but it was clear that her family always came first. Chip, her children and her grandchildren were her strength. Their bond was special. She worked tirelessly on behalf of the City of Greensboro, the residents of North Carolina and our Country. She leaves a legacy that spans all sectors. Just last week she and Chip agreed to serve as honorary co-chairs of the 2020 ArtsFund Campaign. She left this earth a better place. We will miss her."

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