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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Lindy Boggs died this morning. She was 97 years old, had served in Congress for close to 20 years and also served as the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, appointed by President Clinton. But those achievements, great as they are, do not begin to sum up the life and accomplishments of Lindy Boggs. As many of you know, she's part of our family at NPR. Her daughter is Cokie Roberts. And Lindy Boggs has many friends here, as she does everywhere.

Lindy was born in the spring of 1916. She went to college at Sophie Newcomb at Tulane in New Orleans, where she met her future husband, Hale Boggs. They were married when she was just 21. He was elected to Congress not long after that. He was, at 26, the youngest member of the House. Lindy Boggs came to Washington just in time for FDR's third inauguration. She began her political career by running her husband's Washington office, managing his campaigns, moving on to work for the Democratic Party, chairing inaugural committees for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

She ran for Hale Boggs' seat in Congress after his death - lost in a small plane crash in 1972 - campaigning in Alaska in with Congressman Nick Begich. She was elected, a special election, in 1973 to represent New Orleans' French Quarter. Lindy came to the Congress planning to be the same sort of Democrat her husband had been, but found when she arrived that women were underrepresented not only on the floor of the House but also not properly represented by the laws the House passed. Making it easier for women to get credit cards without their husbands' permission was one of her earliest issues. She continued to work on women's issues her entire career, convincing her colleagues mostly with her great personal charm, showing steel if she had to.

But the most important people in Lindy Boggs' life were the people in her family - her enormous and very extended family. Her oldest daughter, Barbara Sigmund, died in 1990. Lindy left Congress that year. Her son, Tommy Boggs, his wife Barbara and her daughter Cokie, her husband Steve, all kept Lindy surrounded by her greats and grands, all the in-laws and outlaws she loved so much. There are lots of little girls named Lindy here in Washington and in Louisiana - many of them are her goddaughters. All her friends could tell stories of her help and her kindness, including me. We will all miss her very much. We are all fortunate to have had her with us for so long.

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