Prominent Democratic Ex-Lawmaker and Party Leader Dies After Accident

The former chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party died Sunday after a jet ski accident. Roy Herron, a former state lawmaker, was 69.

Two jet skis collided on Kentucky Lake at Panther Bay on July 1. Herron and the driver of the jet ski he was riding were both injured, according to WKRN-TV.

Herron was eventually flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

According to Politico, Herron suffered internal bleeding and injuries to his pelvis and arm.

During his life, Herron ran in more than 40 marathons and ultra-marathons, according to the Tennessean.

In the mid-90s, we ran many miles together always intensely discussing our points of view on policies relating to Tennesseans, our families, and our beliefs,” former Republican Sen. Bob Corker said.

“While we differed at times, I always respected him and enjoyed our many hours together. My heart goes out to his family whom I know will miss him greatly.”

Roy loved his family with all his might,” Herron’s wife, Rev. Nancy Carol Miller-Herron, said, according to Politico. “He passed doing what he loved most — spending time with our sons and their friends in the Tennessee outdoors where his spirit was always most free.”

Herron served in the state House and Senate for a total of 26 years. He was chair of the state Democratic Party from 2013 to 2015.


Herron was an ordained Methodist minister, who authored a book titled, “God and Politics: How Can a Christian Be in Politics?

Joe Hill, a Democratic political operative, said Herron was as dedicated to his friends as to his political causes, citing a time when Herron made a 140-mile trip to see him after one of Hill’s children was in a car accident.

“We left home in such a hurry and didn’t bring extra clothes,” Hill said. “My wife, Susan, was freezing in the cold hospital waiting room, and Roy gave her his shirt so she could be warm. That’s the kind of genuine human being he was.”

In 2021, after a tornado hit his hometown of Dresden, Herron led a fundraising effort that collected more than $100,000.

“It’s an overused term — that he was a dedicated public servant — but that really was Roy,” former Democratic Rep. John Tanner of Tennessee said. “He worked tirelessly for causes that he took up, and he had a good heart.”

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