Remembering Jean Carnahan, Missouri’s First Female Senator

Remembering Jean Carnahan, Missouri's First Female Senator
Remembering Jean Carnahan, Missouri’s First Female Senator

Jean Carnahan, who made history as the first woman to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 90. She was a trailblazer, a leader, and a devoted public servant who dedicated her life to her family and her fellow Missourians.

Jean Carnahan was born in Washington, D.C., in 1933, and grew up in the nation’s capital. She met her future husband, Mel Carnahan, the son of a Missouri congressman, at a church event when they were both in high school. They married in 1954 and moved to Missouri, where they raised four children on a farm near Rolla.

Jean Carnahan supported her husband’s political career, which spanned from state treasurer to governor of Missouri. She served as the first lady of Missouri from 1993 to 2000, and was involved in various initiatives, such as promoting literacy, health care, and women’s rights.

In 2000, tragedy struck the Carnahan family when Mel Carnahan, who was running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican John Ashcroft, died in a plane crash along with their son Roger and an aide. Despite the loss, Mel Carnahan won the election posthumously, and Jean Carnahan was appointed by the acting governor to fill the vacant seat.

Jean Carnahan became the first female senator from Missouri, and one of only 13 women in the Senate at the time. She served from 2001 to 2002, and was a member of several committees, including Armed Services, Commerce, and Aging. She championed issues such as homeland security, veterans’ benefits, education, and environmental protection.

In 2002, Jean Carnahan ran for a full term in the Senate, but lost in a close race to Republican Jim Talent. She remained active in politics and public affairs, and wrote several books, including an autobiography, a memoir of her husband, and a collection of essays. She also founded the Jean Carnahan Institute for Women in Public Service at Lindenwood University, which aims to inspire and empower women to pursue leadership roles.

Jean Carnahan was a remarkable woman who overcame adversity and grief to serve her state and her country with grace and dignity. She was a role model and a mentor for many, especially for women who aspire to make a difference in the world. She will be remembered for her courage, her intelligence, and her compassion.


Former US Sen. Jean Carnahan dies at 90

Jean Carnahan, Missouri’s first female U.S. senator, dies at 90: ‘A fearless trailblazer’

Former Sen. Jean Carnahan, the first woman to represent Missouri in the Senate, dies.

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