Remembering Former Rep. Lindy Boggs

Lindy Boggs died Saturday at 97. She served in Congress for nearly 20 years and was U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This morning, we're taking a moment to remember Lindy Boggs, who died this weekend.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

She was the first woman from Louisiana elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She served there for almost 20 years, a leader on civil rights and a champion of women's issues.

WERTHEIMER: She was also the mother of our longtime contributor, Cokie Roberts.

GREENE: Boggs spent her childhood on a family plantation, where she was initially homeschooled. At age nine she attended a convent school. She told NPR in a 1990 interview that it was at that school where she had her first lesson on what women could do.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDY BOGGS: I learned there that women did everything. The nuns were presidents of colleges. They were the principals of high schools. They were directors of hospitals. It didn't occur to me that a woman couldn't do anything that she was supposed to do.

WERTHEIMER: Marie Corrine Morrison Claiborne Boggs came to Washington as a young bride in the 1940s. Her husband, Hale Boggs, was then the youngest man elected to Congress.

GREENE: And she was his teammate and partner, running his Washington office and managing his campaigns for reelection. When he died in a plane crash in 1972, she was elected to fill his seat, which she held for 17 years.

WERTHEIMER: Early on, she deployed her legendary charm and deep political savvy on behalf of American women. When the banking committee was about to send the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to the floor in 1974, forbidding discrimination on the basis of race or age, she handwrote the words sex and marital status into the bill and sweetly told the committee she thought they omission must have been an oversight.

GREENE: Lindy Boggs was also the first woman to chair a national party convention and the first to have a meeting room in the Capitol named after her. At age 81, she became the first female ambassador to the Vatican. She was a great grandmother by that time, and she became a great friend of Pope John Paul II.

WERTHEIMER: Lindy Boggs died on Saturday at the age of 97.

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