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The Denver Democrats Mourn the Passing of Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, aged 82

When we think of those to uplift during Women’s History Month, we think of amazing leaders like Hon. Patricia Schroeder. So honoring her now seems only right and fitting. Pat Schroeder was quite simply a legend, a groundbreaking force for women and families throughout her long career. She served as Denver’s U.S. Representative from 1973 to 1997. Her 12-term journey, work and inspiration helped open the door for our current Congresswoman, Diana DeGette.

Pat Schroeder’s many accomplishments may seem inevitable from our perspective today. Yet she was not considered a serious candidate when she ran for Congress in 1972, during the height of the Vietnam War. However, breaking barriers would prove to be Pat Schroeder’s calling. She defeated Republican Mike McKevitt by just over 8,000 votes—the same year as Richard Nixon's landslide victory. She became the first woman to represent Colorado in Congress, and at age 32, one of its youngest members.

She was also one of only 14 women in the House of Representatives. Yet as Schroeder confronted that male-dominated institution, it only spurred her determination to uphold feminist values, and fiercely advocate for women and families across the nation.

Over the years, Schroeder championed health care, expanded Social Security benefits, gender equity, abortion rights and more. As a founding member of the Congressional Women’s Caucus, she helped pass the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act. Her leadership paved the way for a more equitable future.

She was also the first woman to serve on the Armed Services Committee, where she was outspoken against the Vietnam War and advocated for arms control. Throughout her career, she worked to improve conditions for military members and their families, and was a key proponent of the 1985 Military Family Act.

She was equally known for her barbed wit. When asked about balancing political life with motherhood she famously quipped, "I have a brain and a uterus, and they both work." That legacy of truth spoken to power, of fierce dedication to the causes she believed in, is cemented now in modern legislation.

Today DPOD leadership extends our sympathy to her family, as we continue the work of carrying her light forward in activism.



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