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Washington Bids Farewell to Lindy Boggs

The Capitol community is bidding a low-key farewell to former Rep. Lindy Boggs, D-La., a women’s rights champion who died of natural causes on July 27 at her Chevy Chase, Md., home. She was 97.

In Statuary Hall, the entrance to the Corrine “Lindy” Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room was draped in black as a somber tribute to her decades of public service.

Boggs began her political career by helping run her husband’s congressional office and campaigns. When a plane carrying Hale Boggs, who was then House majority leader, disappeared over Alaska in 1972 and he was subsequently presumed dead, Lindy Boggs won a special election for his seat. She became the first female from Louisiana elected to the House, and three years later she became the first woman to preside over the Democratic National Convention.

“Lindy was a grand lady who served as both a pioneer and a trailblazer for her beloved state of Louisiana, and she will be dearly missed,” Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said in a statement.

Boggs used her seat on the House Banking Committee to help secure women the ability to obtain credit cards without their husband’s permission and to push for equality in economic issues. She was someone who, according to her longtime colleague Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., didn’t shy away from exercising the power of the purse as an appropriator. “She dearly loved her earmarks, using them in a strategic way to help the people of her district, focusing especially on education and empowerment,” said Mikulski, who served with Boggs in the House and is now chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Boggs served for 17 years and “set the gold standard for public service,” Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., said.

After Congress, Boggs continued in public service. In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed her to be ambassador to the Vatican.

Boggs visited the Capitol this spring, when she was invited to be the guest of honor for Women’s History Month. She attended with her daughter, journalist Cokie Roberts.

The luncheon coincided with her 97th birthday, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said guests commented on Boggs’ “regal dignity, her political astuteness and the personal joy she took in her family.”

Pelosi and other lawmakers planned to attend a visitation for Boggs held Monday evening in Northwest D.C. and to fly to Louisiana for religious services later this week.

A Mass in New Orleans will be celebrated Thursday at 11 a.m. CT, and Boggs’ burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in New Roads, La.

As of press time, no memorial services had been scheduled on Capitol Hill.