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Barbara Boggs Sigmund, Mayor of Princeton, Dies At 51

October 10, 1990 GMT

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) _ Barbara Boggs Sigmund, the colorful and eloquent Princeton mayor who lost to Gov. Jim Florio in last Democratic gubernatorial primary, died Wednesday at age 51.

Mrs. Sigmund was the daughter of U.S. Rep. Lindy Boggs, a Democrat from New Orleans, and the late Hale Boggs, who was the House majority leader and had been slated to become speaker when he was killed in a 1972 plane crash.

Mrs. Sigmund, who died at home, had been suffering from a recurrence of a cancer that first struck her in the early 1980s. That cancer, a malignant melanoma, forced the removal of her left eye in 1982.

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After the loss of her eye, Mrs. Sigmund made a trademark of her collection of fashionable eye patches, which were always coordinated with the color of her outfits or of holiday symbols.

As a campaign gimmick during the primary, she distributed eye patches to businessmen, lobbyists and politicians.

Late last year, she announced the melanoma had reappeared and had spread.

Mrs. Sigmund ran unsuccessfully U.S. Senate in 1982 and was elected mayor of the hometown of Princeton University in 1984.

She was expected to run for Congress if Republican Rep. James Courter’s bid for governor was successful and his seat became available. Courter lost but by the time he announced that he would retire from Congress, she was again battling cancer.

″Her death marks the end of a life that was dedicated to excellence and compassion,″ Florio said. ″She used her many gifts to the fullest. And in doing so, she touched many hearts and made her home in Princeton, as well as this state, a better place for everyone.″

Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean called Mrs. Sigmund ″a woman of remarkable courage, who kept through a difficult time with a sense of perspective and humor.″

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenburg, who defeated Mrs. Sigmund in the 1982 Democratic primary, read a tribute into the Congressional Record on Wednesday.

″Everyone who knew Barbara was enriched by their association with her,″ said Lautenburg. ″She was a unique individual who had an abundance of wit, knowledge, charm and character.″

Mrs. Sigmund was born in New Orleans on May 27, 1939. At age 12, she proclaimed that her lifelong ambition was to run for Congress. Nine years later, she was president of the student body at Manhattanville College in New York, where she received a degree in governmental studies.

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Her gubernatorial primary campaign was short on cash, but Mrs. Sigmund charmed crowds with her wit, saying she wanted to be New Jersey’s first ″governess.″

Of Florio, who at the time was a congressman, Mrs. Sigmund said: ″It’s always good to have a man around the house. Let’s keep him there.″

She finished a surprising second in the three-candidate race.

Mrs. Sigmund pushed for social programs, including low-income housing, and criticized what she said was a lack of planning in many of the state’s corporate park sprawls.

She is survived by her husband, Paul, a professor of Latin American studies at Princeton University and three sons. She also is survived by a sister, Cokie Roberts a correspondent for National Public Radio and ABC News, and a brother, Thomas Hale Boggs, a Washington lawyer.

Funeral services were scheduled for Saturday at the Princeton University Chapel.