Watch CBS News

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. remembered as "a true hero to the people of New Jersey" at funeral

Congressman Donald Payne Jr. remembered at emotional funeral service in New Jersey
Congressman Donald Payne Jr. remembered at emotional funeral service in New Jersey 02:13

NEWARK, N.J. - Rep. Donald Payne Jr. was remembered at his funeral Thursday in Newark. 

Payne, 65, died on April 24 after suffering a heart attack linked to diabetes and high blood pressure.

An honor guard of United States armed service members carried his flag-draped casket into Newark's Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, where Payne's father's funeral was also held.

Payne Jr. was elected to office back in 2012 after his father, the state's first African-American congressman, died in office of colon cancer.  


The six-term Democratic congressman was hailed by national and state political leaders for having a long history of serving the community.

The service lasted more than three hours.  

Rep. Donald Payne Jr.'s children honor "the best father that anybody could ever ask for"

"We were given the best father that anybody could ever ask for," Payne Jr.'s son Jack D. Payne said.

The congressman's son -- a triplet -- wore a bow tie in memory of his dad. It's the fashion statement the Democrat was known for, but his family says he was more than that, calling him a fighter for his constituents despite numerous health issues.

"No matter how many curveballs life threw at him, Donald Payne Jr. never got bitter," Jack D. Payne said.

"He was a man of the people, down-to-earth and loyal. He always had your back," Payne Jr.'s daughter Nicole Y. Payne said.

Payne Jr.'s daughter Yvonne R. Payne spoke about following her dad's legacy and leading by example.  

"His life was truly epitomized what is possible when we lead with grace, purpose, dignity, empathy," she said.

Gov. Phil Murphy eulogizes Rep. Donald Payne Jr.

Gov. Phil Murphy delivered a eulogy, calling Payne "a true hero to the people of New Jersey." 

"He understood deeply, and in fact shared, many of the same struggles and experiences as his constituents throughout North Jersey," Murphy said. "I mean, look no further than the fact that Don lived on the same exact street in Newark his entire life." 

Murphy said no matter how far Payne's career took him, he "was always grounded in an unwavering and unrelenting commitment to serving the community that raised him."

Lawmakers share memories of Rep. Donald Payne Jr.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker remembered the last time he saw his friend.

"The last words I would ever hear from him -- 'I love you.' And suddenly I wished that that wasn't the last time," Booker said.

Other national figures shared their own personal stories.

"We loved Don and Don loved us," said Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn.

The son of a Newark dynasty, Payne Jr. was nicknamed "Chop" by his late father and "The Minute-Man" by his colleagues for making the most impact comments on the House floor.

"Donald Payne was a blessing to the Congress of the United States," former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

"A benevolent man. A Brick City man," Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also sent their condolences, calling Payne Jr. a remarkable leader.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.