Pa. state Sen. David Arnold has died of brain cancer, officials announce

Sen. Dave Arnold, R-Lebanon, takes the oath of office on Jan. 29. Arnold died at age 49 on Jan. 17, 2021. Source: PA State Senate.

(*This story was updated at 2:37 p.m. on Sunday, 1/17/21 with additional comment from Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon.)

State Sen. David Arnold, a Lebanon County Republican, and former elected district attorney, has died, his office announced in a statement on Sunday morning:

“It is with heavy hearts that the family and staff of Senator David J. Arnold, Jr., announce the end of his battle with brain cancer on Sunday, January 17, 2021.

“Senator Arnold passed away peacefully at home with his wife and daughter by his side. In lieu of flowers, Senator 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.”

Arnold was sworn into office last January, taking the 48th Senate District seat formerly held by GOP Sen. Mike Folmer.

In a joint statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Majority Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said they “[joined] 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,” they continued. ” … 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.”

In a joint statement, House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, and Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said that “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.”

Ex-prosecutor Dave Arnold sworn-in to represent Lebanon County’s 48th Senate District

In a tweet, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who presides over the chamber, said he was “truly heartbroken” to learn of Arnold’s death.

In a statement, Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, said: “This is a sad day for me personally and for Lebanon County. Today, we lost a dear friend and a tireless public servant whose generous contributions as Lebanon County’s district attorney and as a newly elected state senator have strengthened our county and our communities.”

On Sunday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the state’s flags flown at half staff in Arnold’s honor.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press