Dominic Massa / EyewitnessNews

She found herself there largely because of a tragedy, but Wednesday marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone for Lindy Boggs, the Louisiana woman known for a lifetime of public service.

In a special election on March 20, 1973, Mrs. Boggs became the first woman elected to Congress from Louisiana. She was elected to the seat held by her husband, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, who disappeared in a plane crash in 1972, while traveling on a campaign trip in Alaska, and was presumed dead.

In 1974, Mrs. Boggs was elected to a full term in the House of Representatives from Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District, representing the city of New Orleans.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, who said she considers Boggs among her mentors, pointed out in a letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune that when Boggs was elected, there were only 15 women in the U.S. House of Representatives and none in the Senate. Today, there are 100 women serving in Congress, including a record 20 in the Senate, Landrieu said.

During her career, Boggs became an advocate for women, civil rights and family issues.

She served nine terms in the House of Representatives before retiring in 1991 and then being named U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

Just last week, she celebrated her 97th birthday. She now lives in the Washington, D.C. area near two of her children, journalist Cokie Roberts and influential lobbyist Thomas Hale Boggs Jr.

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