DUNN, N.C. (WNCN) — A “beloved” former five-term mayor of Dunn died suddenly near his home on Tuesday, officials said.

Oscar Harris, 80, also served three terms as a North Carolina Senator, according to a news release from Dunn city officials.

Dunn Police Chief Charles West described Harris as “beloved” in a brief statement Tuesday night.

Harris, who was mayor for 20 years,also served on the North Carolina Board of Transportation and the North Carolina Economic Development Board.

Harris’ family released a statement.

“Our family is shocked and stricken with grief at this moment,” said daughter Shelia Harris Maness. “We are truly appreciative of all the prayers and the calls offering sympathy. We are overwhelmed at this time and thank our friends and neighbors for their love and support.”

Harris, who announced in June 2019 he would not run for re-election, appeared at a city council meeting just last month when he was honored just as a new mayor was sworn in.

“I have served 20 years as mayor and served four years in the North Carolina State Senate,” Harris told the Dunn Daily Record at the time he decided not to seek re-election. “That’s 24 years of elected public service which has been a great honor for me.”

Harris, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was a graduate of Campbell University and served as the campaign treasurer for Governor Beverly Eaves Perdue. He was active in the Jaycees, Rotary, Masons, Shriners, the Dunn Area Chamber of Commerce and his church Glad Tidings Assemblies of God, according to a news release.

“His achievements will leave a lasting mark on this community and the many lives that he has touched,” the city said in a news release.

The newspaper reported that Harris ran a Dunn accounting firm before it merged in 2017 with the Bernard Robinson Company.

“This is a very sad day for our city and our community. Oscar loved Dunn and its citizens,” current Dunn Mayor William P. Elmore said in a news release. “He was a very strong leader and a man of faith. He dedicated his entire life to his family and to public service. He will be missed tremendously. We ask the community to join us in praying for his family at this difficult time.” 

A cause of death for Harris was not released.

The family is being assisted by Skinner-Smith Funeral Home in Dunn.