Dennis Patrick “Pat” Mullins, who served as the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 2009 to 2015, was identified Monday as the victim of a single-vehicle crash a day earlier in Hanover County.
Mr. Mullins, who lived in Bumpass in Louisa County, was 79.
He took over chairmanship of the state GOP the same year that Bob McDonnell led a sweep of the state’s top three offices — governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Mr. Mullins announced his retirement in late 2014 and was replaced by John Whitbeck early the following year.
“I can’t count the number of people that have reached out,” Whitbeck said Monday. “This is a sad, sad day for the Virginia Republican Party.”
“We were so shocked to hear,” Whitbeck added. “He’s been fairly quiet and spent a lot of time with his family over the last few years. But he was a constant source of advice for me and really beloved by the Republicans across the commonwealth.”
Whitbeck said Mr. Mullins had “a wonderful family who I’m sure are grieving terribly this weekend, and we’re all just kind of feeling close to them because we all loved Pat as much as I’m sure they do.”
Rep. Barbara J. Comstock, R-10th, wrote in a Facebook post that “Pat was a friend and activist who helped Republicans throughout the commonwealth to build and grow the Republican Party. Pat was a natural leader who brought people together and was always in good humor.”
Mr. Mullins, who also served as GOP chairman in the counties of Louisa and Fairfax, rose to become the state party’s leader in May 2009 after his predecessor, then-Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick of Prince William County, was ousted.
After the McDonnell-led sweep in the election later that year, Virginia Republicans did not win a statewide race for the rest of Mr. Mullins’ tenure — and have not to this day.
When Mr. Mullins announced that he would retire, he said in a statement that “serving as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia since 2009 has been one of the greatest honors and privileges I’ve had in my life. I’ll be forever thankful to the Republicans across Virginia who have placed their trust and support in me.
“But the time comes when retirement is at hand. I’m 77 years old, and it’s time to turn the reins over to someone else.”
A son, Steve Mullins, posted on Facebook that his father “will be greatly missed by his four children and their spouses, his six grandchildren, his brother, his cousins, and the many friends and family that he has impacted over his 79 years on the Earth.”
Mr. Mullins’ wife, Jackie Mullins, died in 2010, according to the post.
“We take peace that Pat is with his Lord and Risen Savior and reunited with his wife and our mother that he married in 1963,” Steve Mullins wrote.
Sunday’s crash occurred about 1:30 p.m. near the intersection of Mountain and Waltons Tavern roads in the northwestern part of the county, the Hanover Sheriff’s Office said.
The Sheriff’s Office’s preliminary investigation revealed that a 2015 Buick sedan was traveling west in the 16000 block of Mountain Road when it ran off the left shoulder of the roadway and struck a tree.
Mr. Mullins, who was the vehicle’s only occupant, was taken a hospital, where he died.
Investigators were still collecting information Monday and consulting with the state medical examiner to determine the circumstances of the crash, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Mullins were incomplete.