A first-term Republican state lawmaker in Minnesota died this week from complications of the coronavirus.
According to the New York Post, Minnesota state Sen. Jerry Relph (R), a Vietnam War veteran, died Friday at the age of 76.
One of several Minnesota Republicans to have come down with the coronavirus disease in the wake of a post-election party, Relph first entered quarantine on Nov. 10 after testing positive for COVID-19, the Post noted.
According to MPR News, “Relph was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2016,” and lost his re-election bid this year “by just 315 votes.”
A dedicated public servant
In a statement released following his death, Relph’s wife, Pegi Broker-Relph, said her husband had “dedicated his life to service” and was honored to represent Minnesota’s Senate District 14, which includes St. Cloud.
“[R]epresenting Senate District 14 was one of the highest honors he had,” she added, according to MPR. “I can’t count the number of times he would come home at night and tell me about helping solve a constituent’s problem, or a story he heard from someone in a parade or at a public event, or even just someone he met during a ‘day on the hill’ event.”
Broker-Relph went on: “He loved serving the people of St. Cloud in the Senate, and he cherished every minute of it.”
According to MPR, Relph also received praise for being willing to work with those on the other side of the political aisle during his career, including from Dan Wolgamott, Relph’s Democratic opponent for the state Senate in 2016. Wolgamott now represents St. Cloud in the state House.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of my colleague Senator Jerry Relph. My heart breaks for his loving family. I am so thankful for Jerry’s willingness to work across the aisle with me, and I will always be proud of all we accomplished together for the people of St. Cloud. pic.twitter.com/PQEzlPaHb3
— Rep. Dan Wolgamott (@RepWolgamott) December 19, 2020
A tragedy before Christmas
According to MPR, Relph sought emergency room care twice during his bout with COVID-19, but was never admitted to the hospital.
In addition to his wife, the state senator is reportedly survived by two adult children and four step-children.
Throughout the U.S., over 17.5 million have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic first hit the U.S. earlier this year, according to a tracker from The New York Times. More than 310,000 Americans have died.