North Carolina AHEC Program
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Nesbitt Leaves Behind an AHEC Legacy in Asheville

North Carolina Senator Martin Nesbitt, a longtime Buncombe County legislator respected regardless of political party, died March 6, 2014. He was 67.

To describe his passing as sudden would be an understatement. Nesbitt was working just as he had been since being appointed to his late mother’s NC House seat in 1979, when he announced on March 3 he was stepping down as NC Senate minority leader. Only days before he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

An advocate for the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) and a leader on health issues in western North Carolina and across the state, Nesbitt earned a reputation as a champion for the common man, his friends said, and always had what was best for the people of western NC in his heart.

“I think when any great man passes, history ultimately tells the story and I think it will be clear that Sen. Nesbitt left a major impact on western North Carolina,” said Jeff Heck, MD, MAHEC President and CEO.

MAHEC faculty and staff were honored and humbled to learn that the Nesbitt family has asked that memorial contributions made in the Senator’s honor be directed to MAHEC.

In MAHEC's early years, Senator Nesbitt was very active with the MAHEC nurse practitioner certificate program and was awarded honors for helping to keep it going. Senator Nesbitt led the western NC delegation in supporting the creation of the Center for Healthy Aging, a collaboration between MAHEC, UNC-Asheville, and Western Carolina University, and the special legislative appropriation that funded construction of the MAHEC Education Building.

Ribbon Cutting of Mary C. Nesbitt Biltmore Campus

Photo above: Senator Nesbitt (sixth from the right) with family and MAHEC leaders at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Mary C. Nesbitt Biltmore Campus.

Recognizing Senator Nesbitt's achievements and also the commitment of his mother, Mary Cordell Nesbitt, to the state and region, western NC legislators sponsored a bill in 2013 to rename MAHEC’s 13-acre site the MAHEC Mary C. Nesbitt Biltmore Campus. A celebration of the campus renaming and open house for the Family Medicine/Dental Building was held last September, and Nesbitt and his family were in attendance.

Senator Nesbitt's leadership in mental health issues is also well known locally and throughout the state.

While Nesbitt’s 30-plus years of service in the legislature will be missed, his reputation will continue to stand the test of time as will the generous legacy his family leaves with MAHEC.

MAHEC Campus

Photo above: MAHEC’s Education Building and Ob/Gyn Building on the Mary C. Nesbitt Biltmore Campus