Former Rep. Lindy Boggs dies at 97

Former Rep. Lindy Boggs (D-La.) died on Saturday at the age of 97.

Boggs’s daughter, journalist Cokie Roberts, told the Associated Press that Boggs died of natural causes at her home in Chevy Chase, Md.

President Obama expressed his condolences in a statement late Saturday.

"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," Obama said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), meanwhile, praised the "Lady of the House" as a deserving recipient of bipartisan praise.

"More than anyone in the House, she commanded the respect, admiration and affection of Members on both sides of the aisle," she said in a statement. "I hope it is a comfort to the Boggs family that so many people in the world mourn their loss and appreciate the life of Lindy Boggs.”

And Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said in a tweet that Boggs "personified grace and service -- as a wife and mother, a Member of Congress, and Ambassador to the Vatican."

Boggs won a special election in 1973 to fill the seat of her deceased husband, Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr., who disappeared while on a campaign flight in Alaska. Thomas Boggs had been the House majority leader at the time.

Lindy Boggs went on to be reelected eight times, as her stint, combined with her husband's, amounted to over half a century of service in the Congress. 

She served on the House Appropriations Committee, as well as the House Banking and Currency Committee. 

In 1991, a room in the Capitol formerly used as an office for the Speaker, now serving as a gathering place for congresswomen, was renamed the Lindy Claiborne Boggs Room. It is the first and only room in the Capitol named for a woman.

Boggs was known for her record on civil rights, serving as a white woman representing a majority-black district in Louisiana.

She also served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican between 1997 and 2001, and served as the permanent director of the 1976 National Democratic Convention — the first time a woman filled that role.

In addition to her daughter, Cokie Roberts, Boggs is survived by her son, Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr., a prominent Washington lobbyist.

Another daughter, Barbara Boggs Sigmund, died of cancer in 1990, the same year Boggs announced her retirement from office. Barbara Boggs Sigmund had served as the mayor of Princeton, N.J.

--This report was originally published at 10:16 a.m. and was last updated at 8:08 p.m.

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