Lindy Boggs, Former Congresswoman and Vatican Ambassador, Dies at 97

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Lindy Boggs, Former Congresswoman and Vatican Ambassador, Dies at 97 – WWLTV (click to see original article)

Lindy Boggs, the lifelong public servant and iconic Southern woman who became the first Louisiana female elected to the U.S. Congress and first female U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, has died. She was 97. Mrs. Boggs was born Marie Corinne Morrison Claiborne in New Roads, Louisiana. She was a descendant of the state’s first governor, William C.C. Claiborne, and was second cousin to deLesseps “Chep” Morrison, Mayor of New Orleans from 1946 to 1961. Mrs. Boggs was a student at Tulane University’s Sophie Newcomb College. Up until Hurricane Katrina, Mrs. Boggs was a notable resident of New Orleans’ legendary Bourbon Street. Mrs. Boggs served nine terms in the House of Representatives. When she was elected to her first full term in Congress in 1974, Mrs. Boggs became the first woman elected to Congress from Louisiana. During close to 20 years as Representative of the state’s Second Congressional District, which includes New Orleans, she would show a particular interest for women’s and children’s issues. She helped to write the Employment Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 and held seats on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families. Mrs. Boggs was the first woman to chair a major political party’s presidential nominating convention. She chaired the Democratic convention in New York in 1976. As the first woman to chair the convention, she decreed that she would be addressed as “Madam Chairwoman,” rather than “Madam Chairman” or “Madam Chairperson.” In 1997, President Bill Clinton asked Mrs. Boggs, a devout Roman Catholic, to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. At age 81, she became the first American woman to hold the diplomatic position. When Boggs announced her retirement in 1990, she was the only white representing a black-majority district in Congress. “I am proud to have played a small role in opening doors for blacks and women,” she said at the time.

During her political career and well into retirement, Mrs. Boggs was active on behalf of countless charitable causes, particularly in the area of education, including Loyola University (where a National Center for Community Literacy bears her name), the University of New Orleans (home to the Lindy C. Boggs International Conference Center) and Tulane University, where she served as special counsel to the university president. Tulane dedicated its Lindy Claiborne Boggs Center for Energy and Biotechnology in 1988. She held honorary degrees from Tulane, Loyola, Xavier and more than 30 other educational institutions.