State Senator Augustus Benton (Ben) Chafin, Jr., died on New Year’s Day from COVID-19 complications.
From Russell County, Chafin served the City of Radford as state senator of the 38th district. A Republican, he was elected to the Virginia State Senate in 2014 and was previously the Fourth District delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates.
In a statement following Chafin’s death, Gov. Ralph Northam recalled him as a “kind and gracious man.”
“With the passing of Senator Ben Chafin, Southwest Virginia has lost a strong advocate, and we have all lost a good man,” said Northam. “I knew Ben as a lawmaker, an attorney, a banker and a farmer raising beef cattle in Moccasin Valley, working the land just as generations of his family had done before him. He loved the outdoors, and he loved serving people even more. He pushed hard to bring jobs and investment to his district, and I will always be grateful for his courageous vote to expand health care for people who need it.
“Pam and I are praying for Lora and their children, and I have ordered the Virginia state flag to be lowered immediately over the state capitol in his honor and to remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of his interment,” the governor said. “This is sad news to begin a new year with the loss of a kind and gracious man. May we all recommit to taking extra steps to care for one another.”
Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Richard L. Anderson also issued a statement in the wake of Chafin’s death.
“Virginians everywhere are saddened tonight by the news of the passing of a great public servant, Sen. A. Benton Chafin, Jr.,” said Anderson. “Ben was a man for all seasons and was broadly respected throughout Southwest Virginia and across the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
“I was privileged to serve with Ben in the Virginia House of Delegates before his election to the Senate of Virginia,” Anderson said. “The citizens of both the Fourth House District and 38th Senate District were fortunate to have his able representation in the Virginia General Assembly for many years.
“Ben made his mark on our Commonwealth as an attorney, a farmer and a selfless public servant,” Anderson said. “He will be forever remembered for his conscientious commitment to serving his fellow man, and he will be especially remembered as a man of civility who treated others with simple human kindness and respect.
“The Republican Party of Virginia and all those who knew and served with Senator Chafin thank his family for sharing him with our commonwealth for so many years,” Anderson said. “Our prayers go out to his wife, Lora, and their children at this very difficult time. May we remember Ben always for his legacy of service to the Commonwealth of Virginia that he loved so deeply.”
Chafin was born on May 18, 1960, and was named after his late father, A.B. Chafin. He leaves behind his wife of 38 years, Lora Carr Chafin, his mother, Mary Miller Chafin, a sister, Justice Teresa M. Chafin, and three adult children, Sophia Chafin Vance, Audra Chafin Hobart and Augustus Benton Chafin III (Gus).
Chafin was a generational cattle farmer and a lawyer. He was also a long-time board member of the First Bank and Trust (which his father helped found) as well as an “avid outdoorsman and the very doting grandfather” of granddaughter Abee Vance and grandson, Tipton Vance, according to his obituary.
Chafin first served in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2013 and was elected to the state senate in 2014.
“He had a distinguished legislative record and a very high rate of passed legislation,” his obituary reads. “He advocated jobs in his district, particularly in the coalfields where the decline of coal has devastated local economies. He was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, economic development and health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income Virginians.”
At Chafin’s request, a formal burial service will not be held.