Linda Garrou, former NC Senate budget leader, dies at 79

March 20, 2022 GMT
FILE - Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, introduces the Senate budget bill, on May 24, 2006, during the Senate floor session in the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C. Garrou, a top state government budget-writer when Democrats controlled the chamber in the 2000s, has died at age 79. The former senator died Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. after suffering a stroke, her husband, John Garrou, said Sunday, March 20.  (AP Photo/Karen Tam, File)
FILE - Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, introduces the Senate budget bill, on May 24, 2006, during the Senate floor session in the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C. Garrou, a top state government budget-writer when Democrats controlled the chamber in the 2000s, has died at age 79. The former senator died Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. after suffering a stroke, her husband, John Garrou, said Sunday, March 20.  (AP Photo/Karen Tam, File)
FILE - Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, introduces the Senate budget bill, on May 24, 2006, during the Senate floor session in the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C. Garrou, a top state government budget-writer when Democrats controlled the chamber in the 2000s, has died at age 79. The former senator died Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. after suffering a stroke, her husband, John Garrou, said Sunday, March 20.  (AP Photo/Karen Tam, File)
FILE - Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, introduces the Senate budget bill, on May 24, 2006, during the Senate floor session in the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C. Garrou, a top state government budget-writer when Democrats controlled the chamber in the 2000s, has died at age 79. The former senator died Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. after suffering a stroke, her husband, John Garrou, said Sunday, March 20. (AP Photo/Karen Tam, File)
FILE - Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, introduces the Senate budget bill, on May 24, 2006, during the Senate floor session in the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C. Garrou, a top state government budget-writer when Democrats controlled the chamber in the 2000s, has died at age 79. The former senator died Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. after suffering a stroke, her husband, John Garrou, said Sunday, March 20. (AP Photo/Karen Tam, File)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Former North Carolina state Sen. Linda Garrou, a top state government budget-writer when Democrats controlled the chamber in the 2000s, has died at age 79.

Garrou died Saturday at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem after suffering a stroke, her husband, John Garrou, said Sunday.

The Forsyth County Democrat served in the Senate for over a dozen years until she declined to seek reelection in 2012. A redistricting plan approved by Republicans, who had taken General Assembly majorities in 2011, put her in the same district with a GOP senator.

For eight years, Garrou was one of the co-chairs of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, helping make major decisions on where billions in taxpayer money would be spent.

At the time of her retirement announcement in 2012, Garrou said she was proud of her efforts to invest in capital projects in the Winston-Salem area, working for budgets that raised teacher pay and expanding health insurance for more children of working families.

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Garrou was a “champion” for North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper wrote in a tweet on Sunday. Cooper and Garrou served in the Senate at the same time in 1999 and 2000. “Her firm, steady leadership helped many get healthier and better educated,” Cooper added.

Garrou was close friends with future U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan of Greensboro. They roomed together when they both served in the state Senate. Hagan died in 2019.

A Georgia native, Garrou and her future husband met while they were both attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, John Garrou said. She didn’t get actively involved in politics until she sought a legislative seat.

Linda Garrou should be remembered “as someone who was always trying to serve others in whatever capacity that she was active in,” her husband said.

Other survivors include two daughters, Margaret Garrou and Eleanor Rubin, and four grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Highland Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem.