Recently-reelected New Hampshire Speaker of the House Dick Hinch has died, state officials announced Wednesday. 

New Hampshire’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Jennie Duval, confirmed Hinch died of the coronavirus (COVID-19).  

Republicans took control of both legislative chambers in the November general election. Hinch accepted the nomination of speaker on Dec. 2 at the legislature’s Organization Day, held outside at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).

Following an indoor caucus meeting attended by Hinch and other Republican representatives, four members tested positive for COVID-19.  

The 71-year-old was re-elected to serve Merrimack for his seventh term in the House.   

He served as a pro-business Republican and served as both minority and majority leader, before his nomination for Speaker.  

Gov. Chris Sununu ordered all flags on public grounds to fly at half-staff and he said he was “profoundly sad” to learn of Hinch’s passing. 

“Speaker Hinch was a fierce defender of the New Hampshire Advantage, a close friend, and a respected public servant,” Sununu said in a statement released on Twitter.  

Former New Hampshire governor and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan said in a statement, “Speaker Hinch was deeply committed to this service, and I am grateful for all he gave to our state and our country. I join all Granite Staters in mourning his loss.” 

A statement from the Speaker’s office read, “We ask that Speaker Hinch’s family be given the highest level of privacy and respect as they deal with this unexpected tragedy.”  

In his Organization Day speech, Hinch urged lawmakers to view each other as “friends and colleagues,” as tensions begin to rise between lawmakers. Over 130 representatives were absent from the swearing-in due to COVID-19 concerns.  

Born in Marblehead, Mass. on May 1, 1949, Hinch was first elected to the House in 2008. He worked his way to become Majority Leader on Nov. 5, 2015, and Minority Leader on Dec. 5, 2018.  

An alumnus of North Shore Community College and Salem State University, Hinch served on the Merrimack Budget Committee as vice-chair from 2001 to 2003. Hinch also served on the Merrimack Board of Selectmen from 2003 to 2006. Along with his tenure in the House, Hinch served on the Merrimack Chamber of Commerce as chair from 2010 to his passing.  

Hinch was the principal broker at Hinch-Crowley Realty Associates, LLC, and served in the United States Navy from 1968 to 1972. 

Hinch was an active community servant, working with the Merrimack Rotary Club and Merrimack Lions Club.  

A statement from the Speaker’s office asked Granite Staters to “keep Speaker Hinch’s family in your warm wishes.”  

Photo Courtesy of Dick Hinch‘s website.