Virginia State Sen. Ben Chafin dies from COVID-19 complications; elected officials, local leaders respond


LEBANON, Va. (WAVY/WJHL) — Virginia State Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon) died Friday from COVID-19 complications at the age of 60, the senator’s office confirmed Friday night.

Chafin had been hospitalized at VCU Medical Center for two weeks, according to a news release.

The Russell County native represented the 38th District, which includes several Southwest Virginia counties.

He first served in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2013 before being elected to the state Senate in 2014.

Chafin leaves behind his wife of 38 years and three adult children.

According to his office, a formal burial service will not be held, at Chafin’s request.

In response to his passing, Gov. Ralph Northam released the following statement and ordered that flags be lowered immediately and remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of interment in memory of Chafin, Jan. 8.

“With the passing of Senator Ben Chafin, Southwest Virginia has lost a strong advocate—and we have all lost a good man.

“I knew Ben as a lawmaker, an attorney, a banker, and a farmer raising beef cattle in Moccasin Valley, working the land just as generations of his family had done before him. He loved the outdoors, and he loved serving people even more. He pushed hard to bring jobs and investment to his district, and I will always be grateful for his courageous vote to expand health care for people who need it.

“Pam and I are praying for Lora and their children, and I have ordered the Virginia state flag to be lowered immediately in his honor and remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of his interment.

“This is sad news to begin a new year with the loss of a kind and gracious man. May we all recommit to taking extra steps to care for one another.”

On behalf of the entire Virginia Senate Republican Caucus, Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) said the following:

“It is with profound sadness and sorrow that we learned of the passing of our good friend and colleague, Ben Chafin, this evening. 

“To us, Ben was more than a dedicated colleague who exemplified the best in public service. He was a treasured friend, unrelentingly cheerful with an infectious smile and gregarious manner.

“Ben was deeply and wholeheartedly committed to the Commonwealth, and especially to the people of Southwest Virginia. A community leader in Russell, Ben rose to prominence in the fields of law, banking, and agriculture long before his neighbors elected him to the General Assembly.

“First as delegate and then senator, Ben relentlessly promoted and fought for the interests and values of Southwest. He put the interests of those he was entrusted to serve first, cherishing the people of the region he proudly called ‘home.’

“Tonight, as the Senate of Virginia comes to grips with this tremendous and untimely loss caused by COVID-19, our sympathy and prayers are with Ben’s wife, Lora Lee, their children and grandchildren, and Ben’s mother and his sister, Justice Teresa Chafin.

“Ben Chafin has left us a legacy of the best in public service. He served to ensure that his region and community, and the people he loved, would never be forgotten. May we cherish his memory by emulating his dedication and commitment.”

U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith, representing Virginia’s 9th District, said:

“Senator Ben Chafin was a great legislator as well as a friend. As a native of Southwest Virginia, he cared deeply for its people and was a tremendous advocate for them in the state Senate. I will miss this good and dedicated public servant. My prayers are with his wife Lora and his family.”

Former Virginia GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, Daniel Gade said:

“I am saddened to hear about the passing of State Senator Ben Chafin. He was an honorable man who cared for his family, fought for our values and dedicated his life to public service. My prayers are with his family and loved ones as they deal with this loss.”

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