1st Tennessee woman elected to full term in Congress dies

September 20, 2018 GMT

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Marilyn Lloyd, who became the first Tennessee woman elected to a full term in Congress and went on to serve two decades, has died. She was 89.

Lloyd’s family said in a statement that the congresswoman died Wednesday.

The Chattanooga Democrat represented Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District for 10 terms, from 1975 until she retired in 1995. She never lost a House election.

Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1929, Lloyd entered politics in tragic circumstances.

After her husband, Mort Lloyd, died in a 1974 plane crash, she replaced the local news anchor as the Democratic nominee for the House and won the seat.


Lloyd’s youngest son, Morty Lloyd, recalled being 10 years old when he jumped in the car with his mother and they moved to Washington.

“We drove up on Jan. 1, 1975, in a Ford station wagon, and we were both scared to death,” her son said.

In 1979, she helped pass House legislation to complete the Tellico Dam. And in 1989, she became the first woman to chair the Congressional Textile Caucus, where she supported textile quotas so American producers would be more competitive against those overseas, according to her congressional biography.

A breast cancer survivor, Lloyd advocated for the Mammography Quality Standards Act, which became law in 1992. She changed her views to support abortion rights that year because of her cancer treatment experience, her congressional biography says.

Despite being from the opposite political party, George H.W. Bush was the president whom the conservative Democrat said she most admired. Her son Morty said she was truly disgusted with the current state of partisan politics.

After retiring, she donated her congressional papers to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Part of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for which she was a strong advocate in Washington, is named after her.

“She was in many ways a trailblazer,” her son said. “I think she really charted a path for women in Congress. She certainly set the standard for women members of Congress.”

Political leaders from both parties took time to remember her Thursday.

Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga said “the legacy of Marilyn Lloyd will forever be a part of East Tennessee history.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville said he was lucky to serve with Lloyd in Congress, calling her “a terrific legislator whose legacy will live on across Tennessee.”

Lloyd’s visitation will take place Saturday at Chattanooga Church, with her funeral to follow Sunday at the same location.