LITTLE ROCK — Former state representative Sharon Dobbins was remembered Thursday for her devotion to health care and for the job she did after taking her husband’s seat, which he gave up as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.
Dobbins, who had been hospitalized with pneumonia, died Wednesday. She was 44.
House Speaker Robbie Wills said Dobbins was admitted Monday at Baptist Health Medical Center and that her death was sudden.
Wills called Dobbins a champion of health care issues who worked to improve access to health care for underprivileged Arkansas residents. When the Joint Budget Committee convened Thursday morning, members began with a moment of silence for Dobbins.
Her husband, Dwayne Dobbins, resigned from the House in 2005 to settle a felony sexual assault charge. Sharon Dobbins was elected that year and served until 2008.
Rep. Gregg Reep, D-Warren, served on the Public Health Committee with Dobbins and said he respected the way she carried out her role.
“She was always concerned with medical issues,” Reep said. “She handled herself well.”
Reep said he had learned Dobbins had been hospitalized but wasn’t thought to be in grave condition.
“I was stunned,” Reep said.
Rep. Kathy Webb, D-Little Rock, said the first bill she co-sponsored was with Dobbins.
“She was a wonderful colleague,” said Webb, who also said she was stunned by the news.
“We didn’t even know she was ill,” Webb said. Word began to spread via phone calls and text messages among legislators Wednesday night, she said.
Webb said Dobbins didn’t let the circumstances under which she won her seat affect the job she did.
“I think all of that is irrelevant today,” Webb said, adding that Dobbins’ family was in the thoughts and prayers of her former colleagues.
Plans for services were not immediately announced.
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