A former White House and Obama aide from the 2008 campaign has died at the age of 32. According to a statement from the president, Brandon Lepow passed away on the night of October 12 after a battle with leukemia. The former press guru is survived by his wife Theresa, as well as hundred of friends who helped support the couple during his brave fight.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. President Obama Called Lepow ‘One of the Most Unfailingly Kind & Gracious People I’ve Had the Honor to Know’
The White House statement read in full:
Seven years ago, like a lot of young people, Brandon Lepow got into politics because he believed he could change his country for the better. And in his time on the campaign trail and in the White House, both as a traveling aide and as a spokesman, he was tireless in that effort – hardworking, cheerful, one of the most unfailingly kind and gracious people I’ve had the honor to know. He was someone that any American could be proud to have working on their behalf.
Last night, we lost Brandon after a long battle with leukemia. It’s a testament to his dedication to others that, over the past few months, more than fifty of his White House colleagues traveled to spend time with him and support his family as he underwent treatment in Texas. We all have heavy hearts today – and all of us, Michelle and I included, share our condolences and all our support with Brandon’s family, his legion of friends, and his wonderful and courageous wife, Theresa. Theirs is one of the great love stories. They, in many ways, kept the rest of us going. And Theresa will always be a part of our family.
To know Brandon Lepow was to know that he didn’t need to get into politics to change the world, after all. He made his thirty-two years count. And those of us who knew him are better for it.
2. Lepow Gave Up on His Treatments After Stem Cell Transplant Complications
A GoFundMe page had been set up to help pay for Lepow’s medical bills. That page, which at the time of writing raised $54,000 for “Team Lepow,” refers to him as an “inspiration.” A final update on the Facebook page dedicated to his struggle came on October 10. It said that in September, he made the courageous decision to stop treatments due to complications from a stem cell transplant. The update said “his body is giving up on him.” Since late August, doctors told his family that Lepow had just hours to live. One paragraph said:
To say that Brandon is a fighter, doesn’t even begin to explain the strength and courage he has. I am so proud of him in the way he has chosen to leave this world. Under his own terms. We are here just to experience it and hold his hand through this process. These days have been long and hard. I feel challenged beyond anything I thought I could ever endure. But we are all getting through it. I promised Brandon I would be ok in the end-so that’s my plan.
The closing lines of the Facebook post, which was written by his wife, Theresa, says “Brandon is now sleeping all the time. He is peaceful and not in any pain. For most of the past 40 days Brandon was awake. Holding our hands, kissing us and simply being Brandon. I have fallen more in love with my husband as I sit and watch him die.”
3. He Learned He Was Sick in the Days Leading Up to His 2013 Wedding
According to a May 2014 Cosmopolitan feature, Brandon Lepow was diagnosed with cancer in September 2013, just as he and his wife, Theresa, were putting the finishing touches to their wedding. After that, the couple were forced to uproot from Washington D.C. to Houston where he would undergo intensive therapy for his “T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.” In that same Cosmo piece, both Brandon and Theresa described their first meeting, Theresa said:
I met Brandon in July 2010 at a party in Washington, D.C. I lived in Seattle, and I was in town for work. My friend who lives there invited me to a party. It sounded random and fun, so I went.
With Brandon describing it as:
I was working at the White House at the time, on the president’s advance team — I traveled ahead of wherever the president was going to work on media logistics in that city. One of my coworkers was having a birthday party at this place called the Russia House in Dupont Circle. Theresa’s friend was dating my friend, and they introduced us. I thought Theresa was stunning. She has these beautiful eyes and little freckles on her lips. We ended up talking until two or three in the morning.
Lepow went on to say that he proposed to Theresa in December 2012, just after President Obama won reelection. After their wedding was initially postponed, they were finally married in a vineyard just outside of Austin in April 2014.
4. He Left the White House in 2012 to Work at Facebook
At the time of his death, Lepow had been working as Policy Communications Manager for Facebook, according to his LinkedIn page. He wrote about his job on his Twitter page, saying “currently on leave while I kick cancer’s ass.” On his LinkedIn page, he describes his role in Obama campaign as part of the national advance team. After the 2008 election, Lepow worked in a range of different roles in White House. His final role was a regional communications director.
5. He Was a Native of Houston
In a Los Angeles Times feature it says that Lepow was a native of Houston and graduated from St. Edwards University in Austin.