Congressman Donald Payne Jr. Died at Just 65

Congressman Donald Payne Jr. (Donald Milford Payne Jr.), aged 65, has tragically passed away, nearly three weeks after suffering a heart attack. The incident had left him hospitalized in a coma at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

Let’s look into his life and accomplishments in this brief article.

Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr.
Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr.. Credit Greg Nash

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Early Life and Education

Born on December 17, 1958, in Newark, New Jersey, Donald Milford Payne Jr. grew up with his two sisters, Wanda and Nicole. His father, Donald M. Payne, made history as the first African-American to represent New Jersey in the United States House of Representatives from 1989 until his passing in 2012. Sadly, Payne Jr. lost his mother, Hazel Payne, at the young age of five in 1963.

With a political upbringing, Payne Jr. embarked on his journey early on. As a teenager, he established and assumed the role of the inaugural president of the Newark South Ward Junior Democrats. Payne Jr. pursued his academic interests by studying graphic arts at Kean University.

Career

Embarking on his illustrious public service journey, Payne Jr. initially served as an adviser to the YMCA Youth in Government program. Subsequently, from 1991 to 1996, he contributed to the New Jersey Highway Authority. Payne Jr. transitioned to the Essex County Educational Services Commission in 1996, assuming the role of Supervisor of Student Transportation.

In 2010, Payne Jr. secured reelection to the Municipal Council of Newark, where he had served from July 1, 2006, to November 6, 2012. During his tenure as a city councilman, Payne Jr. staunchly advocated for causes such as Planned Parenthood, stem cell research, Medicaid, and education funding. His dedication and leadership were further recognized when he was elected president of the Newark City Council in July 2010.

U.S. House of Representatives

Following the passing of his father, U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, on March 6, 2012, Payne Jr. entered the primary race to succeed him in Congress. Emerging victorious in the June 5, 2012, Democratic primary election, he continued his momentum to win the November 6, 2012, general election. Since then, Payne Jr. has been dedicatedly serving as the U.S. representative for New Jersey’s 10th congressional district.

As a congressman, Payne Jr. dedicated himself to championing the interests of New Jersey families, striving to foster job creation, economic growth, and the well-being of our children. He prioritized initiatives to enhance the health and safety of our communities. Notably, Payne Jr. played a pivotal role in obtaining funding for the Gateway Project, a significant endeavor aimed at revitalizing transportation infrastructure between New Jersey and New York.

Death

Payne Jr. was hospitalized following a cardiac episode in early April. He passed away on April 24, 2024, following complications from diabetes, which led to a heart attack. His death was a great loss to his family, his constituents, and the nation.

Legacy of Donald Payne Jr.

Payne Jr. is survived by his wife Beatrice and their three adult triplets: Donald III, Jack, and Yvonne. His legacy of service and dedication to his constituents will be remembered for years to come. His work, particularly in the areas of healthcare and infrastructure, has had a significant impact on the lives of the people in his district and beyond.

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