The death of Terrell shocked her colleagues. The Kansas representative’s cause of death has not yet been released. She was remembered by colleagues as kind, generous and deeply devoted to her constituents and public service. She died of natural causes.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Terrell Was Found Dead in a Hotel Room She Stayed in During Legislative Session After Casting an Important Vote
That detail came from House Majority Leader Don Hineman, according to CJOnline.
The newspaper reported that he told a group of Terrell’s colleagues that Terrell had died in a hotel room. The news came as they “had assembled to prepare for upcoming budget debate,” the newspaper reported.
According to Kansas.com, she died “only hours after voting to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a package of tax increases intended to generate about $1.2 billion over the next two years.”
The hotel where Terrell was found deceased is in Topeka, Kansas. It’s not at all uncommon for legislators to stay in hotels; they do so frequently because they have to travel long distances. Terrell was staying in the hotel because the legislature was in session.
Terrell was new to the statehouse; she started serving in the state Legislature just this year, according to KWCH.
2. Terrell Was a Democrat From Hutchinson Who Was Respected for Her Passion & Known for Her Sparkly Brooches
Patsy Terrell was a member of the Democratic Party who hailed from Hutchinson, Kansas. Terrell was 55-years-old, and she represented the 102nd District in the Kansas Legislature.
According to a colleague, Terrell had gone out to eat with legislative colleagues after a vote to override the governor’s veto.
Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, told Kansas.com, “She sat next to me. We shared a basket of tacos. She was just so excited and exuberant that we had finally fixed the mess – or what she thought was the mess – that the governor had caused.” She texted Carmichael at about 1 a.m. about “how privileged she was to be a part of that” vote, he told Kansas.com.
Some female colleagues wore brightly colored clothing after Terrell’s death to honor her, and one representative brought 20 brooches to the statehouse for members to wear in Terrell’s honor because she was known as someone who “couldn’t resist a sparkly brooch,” reported The Hutchinson News.
3. Terrell’s Colleagues Expressed Shock & Condolences
Colleagues and constituents alike expressed shock and said the state is worse off without Terrell. She was remembered for her generosity and for being a passionate leader.
Tributes flooded in for Terrell. Terrell was a self-employed writer, The Hutchinson News reported.
4. Terrell Was Tweeting & Celebrating Just Hours Before Her Death
Patsy Terrell’s final tweet came on the morning of June 7.
She wrote on Twitter:
She had expressed happiness at being a budget override vote.
In fact, she was a very prolific tweeter in her final hours, focusing on the people’s business.
“Sharing hugs with some of my colleagues on the floor. OVERRIDE. #ksleg,” she wrote in one recent tweet. “People can still change their votes, but the fact that the speaker voted in favor means that many will follow his lead. #ksleg,” she wrote in another.
She posted a photo of her voting button on social media as well.
5. Terrell’s Colleagues Held a Moment of Silence for Her
As news of Terrell’s sudden death spread, colleagues decided to do something to remember her. They held a moment of silence as the news was still fresh.
According to KWCH, “The GOP caucus held the moment of silence Wednesday night” on June 7. Colleagues covered Terrell’s desk with flowers, reported KMUW-TV.