The first woman from Tennessee elected to a full term in Congress has died at age 89.
A personal tragedy put Chattanooga Democrat Marilyn Lloyd into the race for the U.S. House in 1974. Originally, her husband was the Democratic nominee for East Tennessee in that election. After he died in a plane accident, she replaced him and won, beating the Republican incumbent.
In a 1994 C-SPAN interview, she said when she was elected, women in Congress had to work hard to prove they were as effective as their male counterparts.
“One of my colleagues came up and said, ‘You know, Marilyn, you just work too hard to be a woman.’ And I said, well, you know, I'm trying to do my best, but it was sort of the attitude that we're that much different,” she told C-SPAN.
Her district included the Oak Ridge atomic energy facilities, and she became the first woman to serve on the House Science and Technology Committee.
Local and state leaders have noted her passing.
"Marilyn Lloyd was a great leader in Tennessee and a champion for science and women's health,” Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said. “She cared deeply about serving her constituents. My thoughts are with her family in this difficult time."
“My prayers are with Lloyd family after hearing of Marilyn Lloyd’s passing,” said U.S Representative Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican who currently serves Tennessee’s third district—the same one Lloyd served. “I thank Marilyn for her service to our great state in representing the wonderful people of Tennessee’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years. While I am saddened by her passing, the legacy of Marilyn Lloyd will forever be a part of East Tennessee history.”
"Saddened to learn of the passing of Marilyn Lloyd,” former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen said. “Someone I am fortunate enough to have had the honor of knowing for many years. As Tennessee's first Congresswoman elected to a full term, she was an independent thinker and a staunch advocate for the people of Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District. My condolences go out to her family."
Marilyn Lloyd’s papers and correspondence are housed at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Special Collections.
Lloyd served ten consecutive terms, retiring from Congress in 1995.