Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democrat who represented the Rochester area in Congress since 1987, has died. She was 88.
Her office confirmed her death Friday morning.
Her chief of staff revealed earlier this week that she had suffered a head injury after a fall, and had been hospitalized with a concussion.
“To have met Louise Slaughter is to have known a force of nature,” chief of staff Liam Fitzsimmons said. “She was a relentless advocate for Western New York whose visionary leadership brought infrastructure upgrades, technology and research investments, and two federal manufacturing institutes to Rochester that will transform the local economy for generations to come.”
Details on funeral arrangements will be provided when they are available, Fitzsimmons said.
New York state Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, confirmed Slaughter’s death, calling it shocking.
He said he met with her just a few days before she fell, saying she had the same vigor as always.
“This is such an incredible loss to the community, to the country, but a personal loss for me,” he said. “She was friend since really I started in this business. She was one of the first people I talked to about advice in politics and government.
Morelle remembered her “enormous charm and great intellect.”
He added, “One of the things I’ll never forget is the fierceness with which she fought for the things she believed in and in Rochester.”
“She truly epitomized what a public servant is,” said Robert Duffy, the city’s former mayor and state’s former lieutenant governor, now president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. “Rochester and Monroe County has just lost a huge, tireless advocate.”
Slaughter was the oldest member of the House of Representatives. Only nine current members had served longer.
Dorothy Louise McIntosh Slaughter was born Aug. 14, 1929, in Lynch, Kentucky. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a master’s degree in public health.
After marrying Robert Slaughter in 1957, the couple moved to the Rochester area where she began to get involved in local politics. She ran for the Monroe County Legislature three times, winning a seat in 1975. She was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1984, serving two terms.
Slaughter was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1986, defeating Republican Fred Eckert in a close race and becoming the first woman to represent Western New York in Congress.
Slaughter authored the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), leading the bill for fourteen years before it finally passed Congress and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008.
As one of the longest-serving women in the House of Representatives, Slaughter was a prominent voice for women and diversity. She was the co-chair and founding member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, which works to promote reproductive health and protect a woman’s right to choose.
Slaughter also co-authored the landmark Violence Against Women Act, which has helped reduce cases of domestic violence by 67 percent since 1994.
Source: USA Today (Sean Lahman, @seanlahman)
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