Former colleagues honor Sen. Marc Basnight at the General Assembly

Caroline and Vicki Basnight unveiled the portrait of their father Marc that will hang in the Legislative Building. [photo courtesy N.C. Sec. of State Elaine Marshall]

Current and former members of the state Senate from both sides of the political spectrum gathered Tuesday in the Legislative Building, including Governor Roy Cooper and other Council of State members that previously served in the Senate, for a special session to honor late state Senator Marc Basnight.

The Manteo native passed away in December at age 73, and was Senate President Pro Tempore for 18 years, the longest term of any leader of a General Assembly chamber in North Carolina history.

Basnight was the dean of politics in Dare County and North Carolina for decades, first serving as chairman of the Dare County Tourism Bureau from 1974 to 1976, before being named to the North Carolina Board of Transportation in 1977 by then-Gov. Jim Hunt.

He was first elected to the North Carolina State Senate in 1984 and represented the First District until he stepped down due to health issues in 2011 that was later diagnosed as a form of ALS, Lou Gherig’s Disease.

A portrait of Basnight was unveiled on Tuesday during the special session by his daughters, Vicki and Caroline, that will hang in the Senate chamber.

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger spoke at the ceremony, according to Spectrum News, remembering how gracious Basnight was after the 2010 election that gave Republicans control of the Senate.

Berger said Basnight was one of the first to call and ask what he could do to help the senator from Eden in the transition.

“One thing that really struck me about Marc is that he loved people, and it was clear that people loved him back, without any question,” Berger said.

With decades of public service and many pivotal laws during Basnight’s tenure, there was much to speak about. One of Basnight’s passions that Minority Leader Dan Blue pointed out in his speech was education and colleges and universities in North Carolina.

“We salute him for what he did for higher education, but this man had one of the greatest appetites for learning and education of anybody I’ve ever met,” Blue said.

A public memorial service for Basnight has yet to be scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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