WASHINGTON - Former Rep. Lindy Boggs, a plantation-born Louisianan who used her soft-spoken grace to fight for civil rights during nearly 18 years in Congress after succeeding her husband in the House, died Saturday. She was 97.
Boggs, who later served three years as ambassador to the Vatican during the Clinton administration, died of natural causes at her home in Chevy Chase, Md., according to her daughter, ABC News journalist Cokie Roberts.
Boggs' years in Congress started with a special election in 1973 to finish the term of her husband, Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., whose plane disappeared over Alaska six months earlier. Between them, they served a half-century in the House.
Roberts called her mother "a trailblazer for women and the disadvantaged."
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.
Thomas Boggs was elec-ted to Congress in 1940, two years after the couple married.