Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, 97, dies

Congresswoman Lindy Boggs (Source: Associated Press)
Congresswoman Lindy Boggs (Source: Associated Press)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - She made Louisiana history by being elected the first woman to represent the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Saturday, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs passed away. She was 97.

"She was somebody who had southern charm, and yet very definite in her opinions," said Beth Courtney, president of Louisiana Public Broadcasting.

The Pointe Coupe Parish native started her congressional career after she was elected to finish husband Rep. Hale Boggs' term.  His plane disappeared over Alaska in 1972, and he was never found. Boggs spent 18 years on the hill in Washington D.C. pushing for equality for minorities and women. She was on the house committee that amended the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

"You used to have to always go in and have your husband's signature to be able to buy anything," said Courtney. "She made credit available more for women."

Courtney says Boggs was not only a champion for women, but also for her faith. The devout Catholic served as the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican during the Clinton administration.

"It's a great privilege to be a part of being able to represent the United States, to work for peace and understanding among nations and to be able to, at the same time, to think that you're serving humanity," said Boggs after being appointed by Pres. Clinton.

Louisiana Public Broadcasting did a documentary on Boggs back in 2006. Courtney says it was an honor to be a part of this historic work about an extraordinary woman.

"She was just such a gracious lady. She will be remembered by all of us so well, and I'm just happy that we have some wonderful interviews with her and information for future generations to know what a fabulous woman she was," said Courtney.

Former Governor Edwin Edwards expressed his grief in a statement:

"I worked with her and Hale many years starting in 1965 when I went to Congress the first time. Hale was majority leader and was very helpful, and later when Lindy took his place we worked for the good of Louisiana. She was a great lady, a great public servant and a good long time friend. I extend my condolences to the family."

Gov. Bobby Jindal also issued a statement:

"She lived a life of service, carrying on for those who couldn't and speaking up for those who didn't have a voice in the halls of Congress. Lindy was a true fighter, but she did it with incredible grace and the people of Louisiana are grateful for her service."

And President Obama also offered his condolences and commented on the legacy of Congresswoman Boggs:

"Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to the family and loved ones of Lindy Boggs. Her legacy as a champion of women's and civil rights over her nine terms in office as the first woman elected to the United States Congress from Louisiana will continue to inspire generations to come."