Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s eldest brother died from the coronavirus earlier this week, the Massachusetts Democrat revealed Thursday, becoming one of the first known casualties of the global pandemic to directly touch the life of a high-ranking American political figure.
Don Reed Herring died Tuesday evening, the senator announced on Twitter. “He joined the Air Force at 19 and spent his career in the military, including five and a half years off and on in combat in Vietnam. He was charming and funny, a natural leader,” she wrote.
“What made him extra special was his smile–quick and crooked, it always seemed to generate its own light, one that lit up everyone around him,” Warren continued. “I’m grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time–and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close. I’ll miss you dearly my brother.”
Voters were briefly introduced to Herring in February after Warren’s presidential campaign released an advertisement starring her three brothers. In the roughly 2 1/2 -half minute spot, the siblings gathered in Oklahoma City, sipping canned beers and rifling through a box of old photographs. She regularly invoked her brothers in rallies and speeches, often referencing their military service.
Although the coronavirus has infected numerous government leaders, cabinet ministers and royal family members around the world, prior to Herring’s death, the outbreak in the United States apparently had yet to claim the life of a patient so closely related to a widely known elected official — one who was a top-tier White House contender earlier this year and remains an icon of the progressive movement.
The husband of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Warren’s colleague from Minnesota and another former Democratic presidential candidate, fell ill with the coronavirus last month, but recovered after being hospitalized and enduring a grueling battle against the disease.
“My heart goes out to my friend @ewarren & her family for the loss of their brother,” Klobuchar tweeted Thursday. “It’s heartbreaking to see so many families that are affected by this virus — families that can’t hold their loved one’s hand & say goodbye to them. May he rest in peace.”
Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who also competed in the Democratic primary, called the news of Herring’s death “Heartbreaking” in a message to Warren. “You spoke so highly about Don on the campaign trail. Sending our condolences, prayers, and thoughts to you and the entire @TeamWarren family,” Harris tweeted.