(Reuters) - Representative Donald Payne, 77, New Jersey’s first and only African-American congressman, died on Tuesday after battling colon cancer, his brother said.
Payne, a Democrat elected in 1988 to represent northeastern New Jersey, died of complications of colon cancer early Tuesday morning at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, said William Payne, his brother and a former New Jersey Assemblyman.
“His legacy in Congress will be that he served the small man,” William Payne said. “Although he walked among kings, he never lost the common touch. He was concerned about people who needed food stamps.”
Payne, a former president of the national YMCA, served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
He was the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, once coming under gunfire from rebels as his plane departed Somalia’s capital Mogadishu after a meeting with the African nation’s leaders.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Payne was a widower with three adult children, including his son Donald Payne Jr., president of the Newark Municipal Council.
Payne went public with his illness in February and was transported on Friday to New Jersey from Washington, his brother said.
Funeral services were scheduled for next week in Newark.
Reporting By Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Daniel Trotta