Former Gov. Ann Richards Dies at Age 73

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Ann Richards, the 73-year-old former governor of Texas and a role model for women everywhere, died Wednesday of cancer. From :

The silver-haired, silver-tongued Richards said she entered politics to help others — especially women and minorities who were often ignored by Texas’ male-dominated establishment.

”I did not want my tombstone to read, ‘She kept a really clean house.’ I think I’d like them to remember me by saying, ‘She opened government to everyone,”’ Richards said shortly before leaving office in January 1995. […]

Her family said as governor she was most proud of two actions that probably cost her re-election. She vetoed legislation that would allow people to carry concealed handguns, automatic weapons and ”cop-killer bullets.” She also vetoed a bill that would have allowed the destruction of the environment over the Edwards Aquifer.

She grabbed the national spotlight with her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention when she was the Texas state treasurer. Richards won cheers from delegates when she reminded them that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, ”only backwards and in high heels.”

Richards sealed her partisan reputation with a blast at George H. Bush, a fellow Texan who was vice president at the time: ”Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Four years later, she was chairwoman of the Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton for president.

Richards rose to the governorship with a come-from-behind victory over millionaire cowboy Clayton Williams in 1990. She cracked a half-century male grip on the governor’s mansion and celebrated by holding up a T-shirt that showed the state Capitol and read: ”A woman’s place is in the dome.”

Look for local coverage at the or , where visitors can share memories and stories about the former governor.

Richards’ family requests that memorial gifts be made to the through the Austin Community Foundation, P.O. Box 5159, Austin, Texas 78763, 512-472-4483, or . The school is scheduled to open in 2007.

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