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Former Republican leader Blake dies in Pinehurst

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PINEHURST, N.C. -

Former state Sen. Harris Blake, who served as the chamber's No. 2 leader briefly as the Senate went to Republican rule for the first time in more than a century, died Monday at age 84.

The Republican died at his Pinehurst home from natural causes after an extended illness, said Jamie Boles, the operator of the funeral home handling his arrangements.

Blake was a commercial real estate developer elected to the Senate in 2003 and served five two-year terms. He was elected by his colleagues in his final term as deputy president pro tempore, a largely ceremonial post that sometimes includes presiding over the Senate debate.

Blake "was a self-made man who spent his life helping others and giving back to his community, state and country," current Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a release. "He was an unfailing advocate for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and - most importantly - for his constituents."

In a news release, Gov. Pat McCrory called Blake a "consummate gentleman" who worked for everyone in his district, regardless of their party affiliation. McCrory last year awarded Blake the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor the governor can bestow on a resident. Blake had served on various Moore County civic boards, including the local education board. He ran unsuccessfully for North Carolina Secretary of State in 2000.

Blake, a military veteran and widower, is survived by a daughter among others, according to Boles.

Boles said Blake's funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Jackson Springs Presbyterian Church in Moore County, where he was raised. Visitation is from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at Boles Funeral Home in Pinehurst.

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