East, who represented District 30 for seven terms in the N.C. Senate, reportedly died after back surgery. He was 67.
Gov. Bev Perdue has ordered all North Carolina state flags on state facilities to be lowered Monday to half staff in tribute to East.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
A retired police officer, East represented the citizens of Alleghany, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.