"It is broken our heart to say that Kay left us unexpectedly this morning," said the Hagan family. "Kay meant everything to us. It was an honor for us to share her with the people of North Carolina she cared for and fought so passionately for as an elected official."
Hagan survived by her husband her, Chip Hagan and children Jeanette Hagan, Tildon Hagan and Carrie Hagan Stewart. They remembered her "humor and spirit as the center of our family" and said in her statement that she had the ability to make people feel welcome.
The family did not provide information on the cause of her death, but said they were "deeply grateful for the support shared with our family as Kaye works to recover from her illness over the last few years." News & Record, a newspaper in North Carolina, reports that Hagan was in Washington in 201
In June, Hagan made a rare public appearance at a groundbreaking ceremony for an air traffic control tower in the state – a project she was assigned to progress through time in Congress, according to News & Record. Her husband told her newspaper at the time that her illness was limiting her speaking skills and causing her difficulty in standing and walking. Although she did not comment publicly, she "shared private greetings with the well-wishers" during the event, the newspaper wrote.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement Monday that he had visited Hagan in Durham, North Carolina, on Sunday and remembered her as "a brave soul who lived every day of her life too short with incredible dignity and character, even when the days got harder physically. "
"She was a champion for North Carolina and a fierce defender of all her citizens. She stood up for women's rights and marriage equality, not because she was politically popular, but because she was right," Biden said. "As a United States Senator, she has been a crucial partner for our administration to adopt both the Recovery Act and the Affordable Care Act."
"The legacy of the Hagan service will continue to live on in new leaders, which it inspires to follow in
Former President Barack Obama also expressed his condolences to the Hagan family and remembered her as a "great civil servant" who was "eager to find a common position wishing to rise above the guerrilla battle and always focused for fasting Anne of progress for the people she served. "
" As president, I deeply appreciated her reasoned, pragmatic voice, whether we're working together to pass the Affordable Care Act, reform Wall Street, support working families, or just make Americans "live a little better," he said he said in a statement on Monday. "Her record is one that all civil servants would be able to follow, and her perspective is one we will miss greatly."
Sen. Richard Boer, a North Carolina Republican who serves with Hagan, said in a statement that he and his wife were "deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely loss" of their former colleague.
"In our time as colleagues in the Senate, we often worked the path together on issues that we both knew would determine what kind of country our children would inherit, from conservation to our common defense," Bur said, noted that Hagan will be remembered "for her tireless work on behalf of the home and the people she loved."
This story has been updated.
Sarah Mucha, Jeff Green and Chandelis Duster of CNN contributed to this report.