Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey dies at age 77

March 7, 2012 • National News

FILE – In a Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, administers the House oath to Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., during a mock swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington. Payne, the first black elected to represent New Jersey in Congress, died Tuesday, March 6, 2012. He was 77. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Days before U.S. Rep. Donald Payne died of cancer, it wasn’t the phone calls of encouragement from presidents that cheered him. It was when a Washington hospital orderly recognized the New Jersey congressman as the only U.S. official to visit his village in the African nation of Eritrea.

Hearing from the orderly how much the visit had meant, and knowing he had made a difference in the lives of people struggling against violence and poverty — from his native Newark, N.J., to sub-Saharan Africa — was the reason why Donald Payne had dedicated his life to public service, his brother William said Tuesday.

“He walked with kings, but never lost the common touch,” William Payne said.

Donald Payne, the first black congressional member from New Jersey, passed away Tuesday at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, N.J. He was 77.

The 12-term member of the House had announced in February that he was undergoing treatment for colon cancer and would continue to represent his district. He was flown home to New Jersey on Login to read more

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