Rep. Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey Passes Away at Age 65

A Prominent Legislator's Sudden Departure Shocks Many

by Zain ul Abedin
Rep. Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey Passes Away at Age 65
© Paul Morigi/Getty Images

In a somber announcement, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) confirmed the passing of Congressman Donald Payne Jr., a respected Democrat from New Jersey, at the age of 65. The news, first reported by the New Jersey Globe, has left the political community and his constituents in mourning.

Donald Payne Jr., who represented New Jersey’s 10th District, suffered a severe heart attack on April 6, which led to his hospitalization at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. His office disclosed that the heart attack stemmed from complications related to his long-standing battle with diabetes.

This condition was further complicated by additional health issues such as high blood pressure and kidney problems. A figure of considerable political legacy, Payne Jr. was the son of Rep. Donald Payne Sr., New Jersey’s first Black congressman, who himself passed away in 2012 due to colon cancer.

Following in his father's footsteps, Payne Jr. seized the opportunity to continue his family's dedication to public service by winning his father’s seat.

Legacy of Advocacy

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Payne Jr.

was known for his strong advocacy for the Affordable Care Act, children’s healthcare, cancer prevention, and measures to combat gun violence. His commitment to these causes reflected his deep understanding of and commitment to the needs of his constituents, particularly those from working-class backgrounds.

Prior to his congressional career, Payne Jr. was deeply involved in local governance. He served as president of Newark’s city council and the Essex County Board of Commissioners and worked as a toll collector. This diverse background helped him connect with a broad spectrum of the public, helping him understand firsthand the challenges faced by everyday Americans.

Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey also expressed his condolences, remembering Payne for his iconic bow tie and his unwavering spirit. "Donald embodied the very best of public service," Murphy stated, highlighting Payne’s empathy and tenacity in fighting for the needs of working families.

Donald Payne Jr. is survived by his wife, Beatrice, and their three children, who, along with his numerous friends, colleagues, and supporters, mourn the loss of a truly dedicated public servant. As the community reflects on his contributions, his legacy of passionate advocacy and genuine compassion continues to inspire.