'A strong, constant voice for life'

Lindy Boggs

Lindy Boggs was an American political figure who served as United States ambassador to the Holy See. She married her working life with her home life and built both on profound faith. Christine Bordelon wrote this obituary for CNS.

Lindy Boggs, ambassador and trailblazer

March 13, 1916 – July 27, 2013

Corinne "Lindy" Boggs, who blazed a trail from birth in 1916 on a Louisiana sugar plantation to being an eight-times-elected member of the US House of Representatives and US Vatican ambassador, was "a strong and loud and constant voice for life," Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond said at her funeral Mass earlier this month at St Louis Cathedral.

Boggs, who died at age 97, left a legacy to be admired as a dedicated and genteel wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, faithful Catholic, and public servant by whose example everyone could use to learn to live their faith, Archbishop Aymond said at the Mass.

Calling her a humble leader and a faithful friend, he said Boggs "believed in the darkest moments in life, God loved her and led her. She placed her life in the hands of a loving God."

"Lindy lived her faith and was guided by this faith in her family, life in Congress and all her political life," Archbishop Aymond said. "She was a strong and loud and constant voice for life, calling on the equality of women in the workplace and in the community."

Through her words and deeds, he said, Boggs gave witness that "we are created equal by God ... We must rid our society of racism and prejudice and hatred and become the family of God that he calls us to be."

Before she left New Orleans for her final resting place at St Mary of False River Cemetery in her hometown of New Roads, where her parents and son William Robertson Boggs (who lived only 39 hours after his birth in 1946) are buried, the roll of the drums was heard as the Battle Hymn of the Republic, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, was sung as her casket was carried down the aisle of the cathedral.

Being a politician in Washington might not have been an original goal in life for Boggs. But she learned her way, beginning at age 24, when husband Hale Boggs, also from Louisiana, was first elected to Washington. She took cues from her heroine Eleanor Roosevelt, who was integral to her husband president Franklin Roosevelt's career.

Boggs was her husband's right hand, running his congressional campaigns, his Washington office, and serving as a consultant throughout his years as a Democratic Louisiana congressman until he was lost in a plane crash in Alaska in 1972. She also learned how to manoeuvre the minefield of Washington politics and cajole the media and politicians alike through her involvement in the Democratic Congressional Wives Forum and as president of the Women's National Democratic Club.

She chaired the National Democratic Convention in 1976 and was aptly described as having "a steel grip in a velvet glove". She won a special election to finish her husband's term and then won re-election eight times. She was the first woman elected to Congress in Louisiana history. The decision to succeed her husband wasn't an easy one for her: She considered herself more the "consensus builder" and "peacemaker" among those who didn't agree with her husband's votes.

Boggs said she always believed that "civil rights and human rights are intertwined," something that compelled her to fight for issues that were important to her and her husband. Those issues included voting rights for all Americans and help for women and those in need.

At the top of her list was the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 that barred discrimination in lending based on age, race, creed, gender, or marital status.

Even after she retired from Congress in 1990 to care for her daughter Barbara Boggs Sigmund, who was dying of cancer, she was a gracious host to many non-profit fund-raisers at her townhouse on Bourbon Street. One cause was Lindy's Place, which provided temporary housing and supportive services to help homeless, unaccompanied women gain self-reliance.

Full obituary on CNS: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1303373.htm

Obituary in The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/us/politics/lindy-boggs-longtime-representative-from-louisiana-dies-at-97.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Obituary in The Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21582479-lindy-boggs-and-helen-thomas-pioneers-women-and-democracy-died-july-27th-and-july-20th

Tribute on the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nell-merlino/continuing-the-legacy-of-_b_3670941.html

Wikipedia on Lindy Boggs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindy_Boggs

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