ABC News Corona Virus Political Impact

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's oldest brother died from COVID-19 complications

"What made him extra special was his smile -- quick and crooked," she tweeted.

The eldest of former Democratic presidential contender and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's three older brothers, Don Reed, died on Tuesday night from the coronavirus in Norman, Oklahoma, about three weeks after testing positive. He was 86.

"My oldest brother, Don Reed, died from coronavirus on Tuesday evening. He joined the Air Force at 19 and spent his career in the military, including five and a half years off and on in combat in Vietnam. He was charming and funny, a natural leader," she wrote in a series of tweets and confirmed in a statement on Thursday.

"What made him extra special was his smile—quick and crooked, it always seemed to generate its own light, one that lit up everyone around him," she continued."

"I’m grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say “I love you” one more time—and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close. I'll miss you dearly my brother."

Warren often spoke proudly of her brothers on the campaign trail; they were a key part of her stump speech: only one is a Democrat.

"Do the math," she often said - the gist being that despite their differences, they still loved each other.

Reed was a U.S. Air Force veteran (all three served in the military, Warren often liked to say) and one of the two Republicans. Though he and his siblings only appeared once on the trail with her when she was in Oklahoma, they never spoke to the press; but did appear in a campaign video for their little sister.

Warren has been passionately outspoken about the pandemic's grip on the nation and world; and a vocal critic of the Trump administration's response to the COVID-19 crisis; releasing plans to combat its economic impact.

However, she never publicly mentioned that her family was in its own, private fight against the virus, for weeks, even as she herself remains committed to the public fight.