Kay Hagan, a former bank executive who rose from a budget writer in the North Carolina Legislature to a seat in the U.S. Senate, died Monday. She was 66.
Hagan died of encephalitis, or brain inflammation, caused by Powassan virus, a rare virus spread from ticks to humans, her former Senate spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said.
Hagan, a Democrat, served a single term in the Senate and lost her 2014 re-election bid to Republican North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis.
Hagan was born in Shelby, North Carolina, on May 26, 1953. She earned her undergraduate degree from Florida State University in 1975, then earned a law degree from Wake Forest University three years later.
For 10 years, Hagan worked for NationsBank, which was to become Bank of America, where she became a vice president in the estates and trust division. After being a stay-at-home mother, the niece of former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles launched her own political career and won a seat as a Democrat in the North Carolina state Senate in 1998.
Ten years later, Hagan sought and won the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Elizabeth Dole.
Although she initially showed reluctance to lend her support, Hagan backed the Affordable Care Act pushed by President Barack Obama. She also worked to limit payday lending, continuing the work she began as a state senator.