SNOW HILL — A North Carolina state senator who left the job less than two weeks ago has died following a fall in Connecticut.
The Taylor-Tyson Funeral Service in Greene County said former N.C. Sen. Jean Preston, R-Carteret, died early Thursday at St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury, Conn., at age 77. Preston died from complications from a fall just before Christmas while visiting friends there, funeral service owner Jody Tyson said.
Preston represented central coast counties for 20 years in the Legislature — 14 in the House and six in the Senate. She decided not to run for re-election last year, and her term expired Dec. 31.
Preston, who most recently served as a co-chairwoman on the Senate Education Committee and education budget subcommittee, was a retired teacher, principal and school administrator. She received tributes at her passing from Gov. Pat McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger, who called her a pioneer in special education.
"Preston worked tirelessly on education reform and on achieving better results for our students," Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. "She was legendary in her district for an amazing work ethic and commitment to providing outstanding constituent service."
Preston, who was twice widowed, is survived by her daughter, who served as her legislative assistant in Raleigh, and two grandchildren.
Preston's funeral is set for Monday morning at the funeral home chapel.