NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Rep. Lois DeBerry, one of the longest-serving women lawmakers in the nation and a powerful influence in state politics, has died after a bout with pancreatic cancer. She was 68.
Her nephew, Gary DeBerry, told The Associated Press the Memphis Democrat was surrounded by family and friends when she died Sunday at a Memphis hospital.
She was first elected to the state House in 1972. Nationwide, only two other female lawmakers elected in 1972 are still serving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
She also was the second African-American woman to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly.
DeBerry was a close friend of former Vice President Al Gore and she gave a rousing presidential nominating speech for Gore at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.