Elizabeth Warren's Oldest Brother, Don Reed Herring, Dies Of Coronavirus

The senator has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration's response to the pandemic.

Don Reed Herring, the oldest brother of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), died Tuesday night of complications of COVID-19, the lawmaker confirmed on Thursday.

Herring, 86, was an Air Force veteran who flew combat missions in Vietnam. 

“I’m grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time ― and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close,” Warren wrote in a tweet. “I’ll miss you dearly my brother.”

The former presidential candidate had not previously revealed that a member of her family was dealing with the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Herring lived in Norman, Oklahoma, a state already planning to reopen nonessential businesses despite coronavirus cases continuing to climb there. 

“He was charming and funny, a natural leader,” wrote Warren, 70, whose family is from Oklahoma. 

Known as Don Reed, “what made him extra special was his smile ― quick and crooked, it always seemed to generate its own light, one that lit up everyone around him,” Warren said.

The senator made frequent reference on the campaign trail to him and her two other brothers ― John Herring and David Herring, all military veterans ― to illustrate her connection to her conservative background. She regularly joked that only one of them is a Democrat, adding, “Do the math!”

For Warren, her brothers showed how Americans may not be as sharply divided as many believe. In a January New York Times interview, she said that she and her siblings “and tens of millions of people around this country get furious over the fact that Amazon reports $11 billion in profits last year and paid zero in taxes.” 

Warren’s brothers even appeared in a campaign ad during her presidential run.

“I would vote for her, of course, because I know her,” David said in the ad after saying he was a registered Republican. Don Reed was a quieter presence in the spot, laughing with his siblings on a sofa as they reminisced over family photos and memories. 

In a 2019 interview with The Boston Globe, Warren said that her brothers largely steered clear of the political spotlight, instead choosing to stand in mostly silent support behind their sister. 

“They just feel like this is not their world,” Warren told the outlet. “I’ve invited them to be more active in it, and none of the three of them wants that. They love me, and they care about me. But they recognize that — they don’t want to be part of it.”

Warren has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic. In February, she slammed the administration for “bungling” the nation’s response and released her own plan for dealing with the crisis that emphasized testing and called on American manufacturers to produce necessary equipment. Trump waited until April to invoke the Defense Production Act and is still struggling to ramp up testing.

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