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U.S. Rep. Jones enters hospice care

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U.S. Rep Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C., who has served the 3rd District in Congress since 1995, is in hospice care, his family confirmed on Saturday.

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Adams Publishing Group

Saturday, January 26, 2019

FARMVILLE — U.S. Rep Walter B. Jones Jr., who has represented the 3rd District of North Carolina in Congress since 1995, has entered hospice care, according to multiple news sources.

Jones, 75, has been battling an undisclosed illness since last fall. He was granted a leave of absence that has kept him from casting votes in the U.S. House since September.

Adding to his health woes, Jones suffered a fall and broke his hip earlier this month. He underwent surgery at Vidant Medical Center on Jan. 15, according to his office.

The Farmville Republican missed taking the oaths of office with other members of the 116th Congress on Jan. 3, his staff reported. He was sworn in by Rep. G.K. Butterfield during a private ceremony in Jones’ home on Jan. 4.

Speaking on Friday, Butterfield described Jones as “a very good friend and has been a friend for more than 20 years.”

While taking the oath of office, Butterfield said, Jones’ spirits were good “and he was mentally alert and he was physically alert.” Butterfield said he thought Jones would return to the House soon.

However, the visit took place before Jones underwent hip surgery.

Jones first was sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1995, following 10 years in the N.C. General Assembly. The 3rd District he represents includes the Outer Banks and stretches from areas near the Pamlico Sound down to Wilmington. It includes all area counties, including Pasquotank, Perquimans, Chowan, Camden and Currituck.

Jones is known across the district as a man of strong faith and political beliefs. One prominent local Republican, state Sen. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, said he’s often met and talked with Jones over the years, including the last six when Steinburg served as a state House representative.

Steinburg recalled Jones often would reference his pocket Bible while speaking at events, and was always affable and good to work with on legislative matters. Steinburg said interstate development, the Mid-Currituck Bridge, and helping commercial fishermen were some of the various issues they talked about.

Steinburg also described Jones as a patriot deeply committed to, and affected by, military veterans.

“He visited Walter Reed many, many times,” Steinburg said, referring to the military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, adding wounded soldiers had a “tremendous impact” on Jones. Jones’ strong convictions on foreign policy and military action overseas even caused him to disagree with leaders of the national Republican Party, Steinburg also noted.

Steinburg said he and his wife, Marie, offered their prayers for Jones and his family.

In an interview on Jones’ illness earlier this month, Robin Hayes, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, said the state party stands ready to help Jones and his office to continue efforts to aid citizens of the 3rd Congressional District.

“We are very much concerned about Walter and his health and we wish him well, but at the same time we are very much concerned about representation of the 3rd District,” said Hayes, a former congressman who served five terms with Jones. “We stand ready to do anything possible and or approximate to assist in any of those issues. ... He has a very competent and qualified staff to handle day-to-day issues.”

Last year, Jones announced he was retiring when his term ends in 2020. The announcement came during a tough Republican primary where he fought off challenges from both two-term Craven County commissioner Scott Dacey and information technology manager Phil Law, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

According to his biography on house.gov, Jones is a member of the House Committee on Armed Services. He has sponsored and co-sponsored more veterans’ legislation in the last three congressional terms than any other sitting member of Congress. He has received numerous awards from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Fleet Reserve Association, the Military Officers Association of America and many other veterans service organizations.

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