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Former Rep. Lindy Boggs of Louisiana dies at 97

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm •  Published: July 27, 2013
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"I've seen it time after time," Johnston said. "On difficult issues, powerful men and women are going toe to toe, sometimes civilly, sometimes acrimoniously. Lindy Boggs will come into the room. The debate will change. By the time she leaves the room, she usually has what she came to get."

As the first woman to chair the Democratic National Convention, in 1976, she decreed that she would be addressed as "Madam Chairwoman," rather than "Madam Chairman" or "Madam Chairperson."

"I'm a woman," she said. And, "Why should it be neuter?"

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, one of the hardest-hit facilities was Lindy Boggs Medical Center, a historic hospital named in her honor the previous year.

Her Bourbon Street home also was damaged and The Washington Post reported in February 2006 that she was living in a hotel nearby.

"There are worlds of friends I miss," she told the newspaper. "The culture is not there."

Corinne Claiborne was born March 13, 1916, on a plantation near New Orleans, a descendant of William C.C. Claiborne, the state's first elected governor. She came to be known as Lindy, according to Roberts, because a nurse thought she looked like her father, Roland Claiborne, and called her "Rolindy."

She attended Sophie Newcomb College, affiliated with Tulane University, and met her future husband when both were editors of the Tulane student paper. She taught school between graduation in 1935 and their marriage in 1938.

As part of a group of well-connected women called the Independent Women's Organization, she took to the street in a "Broom Brigade" in 1945, sweeping the streets to publicize the need to sweep out graft and corruption.

In her first election for Congress, in March 1973, she had to overcome prejudice against her gender and privileged background.

Said her Republican opponent, Robert E. Lee: "I've covered this district by foot, by car, by air. This is something that takes a strong, healthy man. ... A socialite is not going to do this district any good in Congress."

Her constituents disagreed, giving her at least 60 percent of the vote in every election from then on.

In 1991, a room in the Capitol for female members of Congress was renamed the Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Women's Reading Room to honor her long association with Congress. According to the House website, it was the first, and only time so far, that a room in the Capitol has been named for a woman.

Her Vatican posting was from 1997 to early 2001, and she said her goals were to work with the Vatican on promoting democracy, tolerance, religious freedom, peace and human rights.

In 2000, she announced that she would resign after President Bill Clinton left office, no matter which party won. "It's been an honor and a privilege and a wonderful opportunity to be in this position, but it's also extremely exhausting," she said at the time.

Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said in a statement that Boggs possessed "a keen intelligence and enduring charm," and was "a true original" who was "as graceful as she was effective."

"The country has lost a champion for civil rights and a trailblazer for women," the said.

In addition to her children, Boggs is survived by eight grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

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Online:

Congressional biography: http://tinyurl.com/lqgom8j

House website: http://tinyurl.com/lwe5ym9