Former legislator Preston dies in Connecticut hospital


Jean Preston, former state senator, died on Thursday at age 77.

Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM.

The N.C. General Assembly convened Wednesday for the first time in two decades without retired Sen. Jean Preston, and as Thursday dawned, Eastern North Carolina had lost one of its most loved leaders.

Preston, 77, of Emerald Isle, died early Thursday morning at a Connecticut hospital following complications from a serious fall.

She had just completed a final term in the General Assembly after serving a combined 20 years in the N.C. Senate and House.

The news of Preston’s death was heartbreaking for N.C. Rep. Pat McElraft, also of Emerald Isle, who considered Preston a mentor and close friend.

“We’ve lost an angel here in North Carolina, but God has gained an angel in heaven,” McElraft said shortly after hearing of Preston’s passing. “I will miss my good friend. We were sisters from the beginning of our friendship. Jean was respected and loved by all in the General Assembly and everyone she ever met.

“Our hearts are breaking.”

McElraft said she got to know Preston while she was a town commissioner in Emerald Isle and Preston was serving in the House. Their friendship grew, and McElraft ran for the House seat when Preston decided in 2006 to run for the Senate. They were both successful in their bids for election.

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