Senate meets following Malone's death

RALEIGH The four term senator died of natural causes in his Raleigh home on Saturday.

His absence was obvious at the legislature meeting on Monday.

"I think he was a role model for a lot of people including myself," Senator Tony Foriest said. "People looked at Vernon Malone as the kind of person I'd like to be like one day."

Senator Foriest worked with Malone as a member of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.

"Education was what I think he was most passionate about," Foriest said. "He let it be known to anyone who would listen that this meant so much to him. It's just going to leave a void for someone to step in with the kind of passion and dedication he had to the state of North Carolina."

Malone served as the Wake County School Board chair when the county and city school systems merged. He went on to serve as a county commissioner.

At the age of 77, Malone was serving his fourth term in the state senate though he considered himself retired.

The news of his death shocked everyone including long time family friend Senator Tony Rand.

Rand says he respects Malone for the way he overcame adversity time and time again.

"There were a lot of things he couldn't do, that he was subjected to a lot of things that young people today could not imagine," Rand said. "He wasn't bitter. He looked more to tomorrow than yesterday."

A viewing for Senator Malone will be held Wednesday, his funeral will be Thursday. State flags will fly at half staff until then.

So far there has been no talk of who will fill his seat as legislators are still grieving. Everyone seems to agree, they'll be tough shoes to fill.

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