WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., died of complications from colon cancer, his office said Tuesday. He was 77.
"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rep. Donald M. Payne," his congressional office said. The statement said Payne, a native of Newark, "dedicated his life to serving the men, women and children of the 10th Congressional District."
He died early Tuesday at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J.
The former public school teacher served as the first African-American president of the National YMCA. He became New Jersey's first black to be elected to the U.S. Congress in 1988.
Payne, the highest ranked Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, Payne worked to protect human rights and provide humanitarian aid to developing countries, particularly in Africa.
Payne also served as a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and most recent chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
"By any standard, Don lived a full and meaningful life," the president said in statement issued by the White House.
"He made it his mission to fight for working families, increase the minimum wage, ensure worker safety, guarantee affordable health care and improve the educational system. He was a leader in U.S.-Africa policy, making enormous contributions towards helping restore democracy and human rights across the continent. Don will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."