(PatriotWise.com) — Former Senator Jean Carnahan, the first woman to serve the state of Missouri in the US Senate, passed away on January 30 following a brief illness at the age of 90, CNN reported.
According to a statement from the family, Carnahan died peacefully last Monday. The family described the late senator as a “fearless trailblazer” who was “dedicated to her family and her fellow Missourians.”
Carnahan was first appointed to the Senate in 2000 by then-acting Missouri Governor Roger Wilson, to serve the first two years of her late husband Mel Carnahan’s term.
Her husband, the popular 2-term Democratic Governor, was posthumously elected to the Senate in 2000, just weeks after he was killed in a plane crash that also claimed the lives of the Carnahans’ son Roger and a top aide.
After Carnahan’s death, Acting Governor Wilson vowed to appoint the state’s First Lady to serve the first two years of her husband’s term if Missouri voters elected him over incumbent Republican Senator John Ashcroft in the November 2000 election.
Jean Carnahan was sworn into the US Senate on January 3, 2001.
In an interview on CNN following her swearing-in, Senator Carnahan described the ceremony as “bittersweet” and vowed to get to work “one step at a time.”
Calling her appointment to the Senate “historic,” Carnahan told CNN that she was filling the Senate seat once held by Harry Truman as the first woman to represent Missouri in the US Senate. She said her swearing-in was a “meaningful time” both for her and for the state of Missouri.
Carnahan served in the Senate for nearly two years before being narrowly defeated in the 2002 special election by Republican Jim Talent, who finished out the remainder of her late husband’s term. Talent was later defeated in the 2006 midterms by Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Born in 1933 in Washington, DC, to working-class parents, Jean Carnahan grew up in Anacostia and graduated from George Washington University in 1955.
Jean met Mel Carnahan, the son of Missouri Congressman A.S.J. Carnahan, when she was a teenager. The two married in 1954 and had four children.
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