Longtime Tenn. lawmaker Lois DeBerry passes away

DeBerry was first elected in 1972. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only two other female lawmakers elected that year are currently serving.

FILE -- In this Dec. 14, 2011, file photo, Rep. Lois DeBerry, D-Memphis, talks in her Legislative Plaza office in Nashville, Tenn. DeBerry, one of the longest serving female lawmakers in the nation and a powerful influence in state politics, died Sunday after a nearly five-year bout with pancreatic cancer. She was 68. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- State Rep. Lois DeBerry has died after a nearly five-year bout with pancreatic cancer.

Her nephew, Gary DeBerry, told The Associated Press that the 68-year-old Democrat died Sunday at a Memphis hospital surrounded by family and friends.

DeBerry was first elected in 1972. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only two other female lawmakers elected that year are currently serving.

DeBerry was the longest-serving member of the state House of Representatives and second-longest in the entire Tennessee General Assembly.

She was also the first female speaker pro tempore in the House and the second African-American woman to serve in the General Assembly.

DeBerry was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009.


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