The man who spent more time serving in the Statehouse than almost anyone else has died.
Former State Rep. Herb Kirsh, D-Clover, passed away on Tuesday after he was taken off life support at a North Carolina hospital. The 84-year-old was the second-longest serving legislator in state history, representing the York and Clover areas for 32 years until he lost a 2010 reelection bid.
Kirsh had suffered a series of falls starting in December and had been hospitalized and at rehabilitation centers since, his son told the Rock Hill Herald. Doctors found blood clots in Kirsh’s legs on Saturday as his body functions started to fail, so the son said the family made the decision to take the former lawmaker off life support.
Kirsh was a Clover store owner who successfully ran for town council, then mayor, in the town after he became frustrated with the council spending. He harnessed that success into a run for the Statehouse in 1978. While there, he eventually earned a reputation as a fiscal conservative who often voted with Republicans on spending issues.
He won reelection in House District 47 every two years until York County solicitor Tommy Pope rode a wave of national Republican support to defeat the political veteran in 2010. The 32 years in the Statehouse was second only to longtime former Rep. Solomon Blatt, who served for 53 consecutive years.
When contacted Tuesday, Pope said Kirsh leaves a lasting impression on his community. “Even when we ran our race, I thought he did it with class and dignity,” Pope told WRHI in Rock Hill. “It’s been some big shoes to fill and it’s been an honor for me to take the seat after him.”
He called Kirsh one of the last lawmakers from a bygone era, who did not use computers or a cell phone. “He was hands-on, handwritten notes, phone calls, no emails. So it’s been a shift for me and probably for the constituency too.”
Andrew Kiel of Rock Hill station WRHI contributed to this report