State Senator Dave Arnold died Sunday, Jan. 17, from brain cancer.

He died peacefully in his sleep at home with his wife and daughter by his side, according to a statement released by the Senate Republican Communications Office. He was 49 years old.

Arnold was sworn into the position just under a year ago, defeating Democratic candidate Michael Schroeder for the 48th Senatorial District seat in a special election to replace former state Senator Michael J. Folmer over charges related to child pornography, for which he later pled guilty.

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Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold visits with people in the audience prior to a special election candidate debate held early January 2020 in the auditorium of the Lebanon County Municipal Building. (Barb West)

Read More: Arnold & Schroeder address voters at WLBR candidates event

The election victory also happened to occur on the same day that he “rang the bell” at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, marking the end of an arduous chemotherapy treatment. He celebrated that night at the Lincoln Republican Club with family, friends, and supporters.

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Pictured on the evening of Jan. 14 as he secured victory in the special election, Dave Arnold among family including (left-to-right) his grandfather, his father, and his daughter. (Will Trostel)

LebTown spoke with Arnold at length in an interview during his first full week in office. The son of a Lebanon County farmer turned Bethlehem Steel worker, and a mom who worked just as hard as a garment worker and bus driver, Arnold said that he developed an appreciation for hard work by watching them take care of their family.

Read More: State Senator Dave Arnold begins first full week in office [Interview]

Asked what he hoped people would say when he ends up leaving the office, Arnold said that he “hoped they would say that I worked hard, that I worked responsibly, that I tried to do what was in the best interest of all the citizens.”

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“We have a motto in the Pennsylvania DA’s Association, that we’ve always held and in my opinion followed, and that was: Do the right thing for the right reasons.”

“That concept should apply to every public servant, whether in the DA’s (office) or now in the Senate, and I need to do the right things for the right reasons, and that’s going to be my goal.”

In lieu of flowers, Arnold’s family has requested that contributions may be directed to the Penn State Cancer Institute in his honor. Checks can be made payable to Penn State University, and should include “Brain Cancer Institute Research” in the memo line.

Please mail contributions to the Office of University Development, 1249 Cocoa Ave, Suite 115, P.O. Box 852, Hershey, PA 17033-0852 or go to: https://engage.pennstatehealth.org

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“We join the residents of the 48th Senatorial District and all Pennsylvanians in mourning the passing of Senator Dave Arnold,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-34) and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-39) in a statement.

“We lost a good man and committed leader much too soon.”

“Throughout his career in public service, Sen. Arnold showed a relentless commitment to justice and advancing the betterment of Pennsylvanians,” said Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) and Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin). “His voice in the pursuit of what is right will be missed.

(Find the full statements below.)

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Full statement from Senate Majority leadership

We join the residents of the 48th Senatorial District and all Pennsylvanians in mourning the passing of Senator Dave Arnold. We lost a good man and committed leader much too soon.

From the moment voters sent Dave to Harrisburg one year ago, he worked tirelessly for his constituents and the Commonwealth. This was not a surprise to anyone who knew him. It was a continuation of a record of public service marked by independence and integrity.

In addition to securing critical funding for vital projects in his district, Senator Arnold sponsored legislation passed by the Senate to protect children by increasing penalties for those charged with possession of child pornography and establishing a task force to continuously explore ways to end this vile practice.

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He also sponsored legislation to ensure that Lebanon County did not lose out on federal pandemic funding and championed the cause of restaurants and other small business employers impacted by statewide business closures.

Before electing him to the Senate, voters showed their trust in Dave by electing him Lebanon County District Attorney, a position he held for 14 years. His fellow district attorneys demonstrated their respect for his character and professionalism by electing him President of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

Dave was a lifelong resident of his beloved Lebanon County, a civic leader, softball coach, husband and father. Our hearts break for his wife, Alicia, and his daughter, Reese. His community and our Commonwealth are better places because of the contributions of Dave Arnold.

Full statement from House Republican leadership

On behalf of the entire Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus, we send our condolences to Sen. Arnold’s family, friends, and colleagues in the Pennsylvania Senate.

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Throughout his career in public service, Sen. Arnold showed a relentless commitment to justice and advancing the betterment of Pennsylvanians. His voice in the pursuit of what is right will be missed.

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Our thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Arnold’s wife, Alicia, and his daughter, Reese, during this incredibly difficult time.

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Davis Shaver

Davis Shaver is the editor and publisher of LebTown. He grew up in Lebanon and currently lives outside of Hershey, PA.