Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s loving stories of her older brothers were a fixture of her presidential campaign—the way their military service shaped her childhood, her ability to talk to them and find points of agreement even though two were Republicans. Now, Warren’s oldest brother, Donald Reed Herring, has died due to coronavirus.
“I’m grateful to the nurses and other front-line staff who took care of my brother, but it is hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time. And now there’s no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close,” Warren said in a statement. “I will miss my brother.”
Herring was a 20-year Air Force veteran who flew 288 combat missions in Vietnam and retired as a lieutenant colonel. He leaves a wife and two sons as well as Warren and two brothers.
Warren described him as “charming and funny, a natural leader” with a “quick and crooked” smile that “lit up everyone around him.” The Boston Globe reports that Herring contracted COVID-19 at an inpatient facility where he was recovering from pneumonia and didn’t initially show symptoms but was transferred to intensive care on April 15 and died six days later. His wife was unable to visit him in the final weeks of his life, and “Warren spoke with him daily before he was transferred to the hospital, but that became more difficult to do as he grew sicker,” The Globe reports. “She last spoke with him on Sunday, when he seemed to be doing better.”
Though a Republican, Herring did appear in campaign videos for his sister.