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Former Rep. Pat Schroeder, pioneer for women's rights and first woman from Colorado elected to Congress, dies

Former Rep. Pat Schroeder, pioneer for women's rights, dies
Former Rep. Pat Schroeder, pioneer for women's rights, dies 00:36

Former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, one of Colorado's most powerful members of the House of Representatives ever died Monday night in Florida where she had been living. She was 82.  

AUG 22 1975, AUG 24 1975; Rep. Pat Schroeder, D-Colo.; Job discrimination often carries into retirem
Rep. Pat Schroeder in 1975 Duane Howell/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Schroeder, a Democrat from Denver, was known as a pioneer in women's and family rights. She had recently suffered a stroke, according to her former press secretary Andrea Camp. She died at a hospital in Celebration, Florida.

In Congress from 1972 to 1997, Schroeder was known for her rapier wit and antics for 24 years, shaking up stodgy government institutions by forcing them to acknowledge that women had a role in government. She coined the term, the "Teflon President" to describe Ronald Reagan.

Party for George McGover
Pat Schroeder attends a party on July 13, 1992 at Tatou Club in New York City. Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images


She easily won re-election 11 times in a democratic district occupied by Diana DeGette since Schroeder decided to step aside in 1996. In 1987, after Colorado Senator Gary Hart was forced out of the race for the presidency, she considered the idea of stepping in, but then in an emotional news conference in Denver said she would not. "There must be a way," she said of running for President. "But I haven't figured it out yet."

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis released a statement on her passing Monday night, which read in part:
"Representative Schroeder was a one-of-a-kind leader and barrier breaker. Marlon and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Pat, a friend, a leader, and a champion for Colorado and our nation. We send our deepest condolences to Pat's family and all of the lives she touched and dreams she inspired across our state and country. Our daughter's future and women across our country's future are better thanks to her service."

CBS File Photo

In spite of her influence and seniority, she was never appointed to head a committee. Her unorthodox methods cost her important committee posts, but Schroeder said she wasn't willing to join what she called "the good old boys' club″ just to score political points. Unafraid of embarrassing her congressional colleagues in public, she became an icon for the feminist movement.

Schroeder helped forge several Democratic majorities before deciding it was time to leave. Her parting shot in 1998 was a book titled "24 Years of Housework ... and the Place is Still a Mess. My Life in Politics,″ which chronicled her frustration with male domination and the slow pace of change in federal institutions.

"I don't know that I would have done much differently," said Schroeder in a CBS Colorado interview in 1996.

RELATED: Visitor Center At Rocky Mountain Arsenal Renamed To Honor Pat Schroeder

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