Ex-Rep. Lindy Boggs: Advocate For Women, Dedicated To Family

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Lindy Boggs died Saturday morning. She was 97 years old, had served in Congress for close to 20 years and also as the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, appointed by President Bill 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 is part of our family at NPR: Her daughter is Cokie Roberts. And she has many friends here, as she does everywhere.

Lindy was born in the spring of 1916. She went to college at Sophie Newcob at Tulane in New Orleans, where she met her future husband, Hale Boggs. They were married when she was just 21, and 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 Franklin D. Roosevelt's third inauguration.

She began her political career by running her husband's office, managing his campaigns, moving on to work for the Democratic Party, and chairing inaugural committees for President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

She ran for Hale Boggs' seat in Congress after he died in a small plane crash in 1972. He was campaigning in Alaska in with Congressman Nick Begich, who also died in the accident. Lindy Boggs was elected in a special election in 1973, to represent New Orleans' French Quarter. She had a wonderful house there for many years, right on Bourbon Street.

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 under-represented not only on the floor of the House, but also in the laws the House passed. Making it easier for women to get credit cards without their husband's permission was one of her earliest issues. She continued to work on women's issues her entire career.

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, died in 1990. Lindy left Congress that year. Her son, Tommy Boggs, and his wife, Barbara, and her daughter, Cokie, and husband Steve 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 goddaughters. All of 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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