State Sen. Vernon Malone, D-Wake, died today at age 78 of an apparent heart attack at his home, the Indy has learned. The four-term senator represented District 14, including Southeast Raleigh.

“He was extraordinarily well-respected in the senate,” said state. Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr., D-Durham. “He was incredibly articulate and passionate about education.”

Malone served as co-chairman of the education/ higher education committee and its appropriations committee, and served on several others.

He held this eastern Wake County seat since it was created after the 2000 Census. Malone, a retired educational administrator and former Wake County Commissioner, was a longtime leader in the black community in Southeast Raleigh.

State Rep. Ty Harrell remembered Malone “as a friend and a champion and strong advocate for bettering not only Southeast Raleigh, but all of North Carolina. His loss is tremendous and I am deeply saddened.”

The original story misstated Malone’s age as 79; according to an Indy questionnaire he filled out for our endorsements issue, he was born Dec. 20, 1930.