ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Louise Slaughter, the dean of New York's congressional members, died after suffering an injury from a fall last week in her D.C. residence.
Her chief of staff announced the 88-year-old Democratic congresswoman passed away early Friday morning surrounded by her family at George Washington University Hospital.
Slaughter was born in a coal-mining town in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1929, the daughter of a blacksmith.
She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor's Degree in microbiology and a Masters in public health before moving to Fairport with her husband Bob.
Slaughter was first elected to office in 1976 as a member of the Monroe County Legislature. She went on to serve as a member of the State Assembly from 1982 until 1986, when she was elected to Congress. She’d hold that position for more than 30 years, covering 16 terms.
One of Slaughter’s crowning achievements was being the first woman to chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, which generally decides how bills come to the floor for a vote.
Slaughter authored the STOCK Act which banned insider trading for federal officials including members of Congress.
When her husband passed away in 2014, she grieved but continued to serve, most recently championing Rochester's photonics initiative.
Although she's best known for her work in that region, Slaughter also served portions of Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties for a decade in what was known as the earmuff district for its distinctive shape.
New York's elected leaders issued statements in mourning.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:
"For more than 30 years, she served in the U.S. House of Representatives with unmatched charm, sharp wit and an insatiable passion to improve the lives of everyone in her community."
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer:
"Throughout her entire career, Louise worked with people from so many different philosophies and backgrounds, because she was such a genuine human spirit. The ferocity of her advocacy was matched only by the depth of her compassion and humanity."
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:
"Louise will be remembered as one of the great, pioneering women in our country’s history, and it was an honor to serve alongside her in Congress."
State Assembly Majority Leader and Rochester native Joe Morelle:
“For nearly 50 years, Louise Slaughter was a tireless advocate for our community and one of our nation’s most fearless champions for fairness, equality, and justice. Her work and legacy will forever be an inspiration to me and I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to call her my friend and partner in public service."
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo:
“She was also a trailblazing woman leader both in Washington and here at home, serving as an inspiration for many women who have since followed in her footsteps to serve in elected office on both sides of the aisle.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren:
"The citizens of Rochester, along with women and minorities across our entire country, have lost a voice in Washington. But the legacy of Louise Slaughter is truly enduring and I am confident her accomplishments will benefit our city and nation for generations to come."
Rochester City Council President Loretta Scott:
"Louise was a champion for all people, and she will be truly missed."
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:
"Her deep knowledge of policy and profound commitment to her community always shined through.
She was beloved by the Rochester community and will be sorely missed."
Monroe County Democratic Chair Jamie Romeo:
"Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was a living icon for women from all walks of life who wanted to get off the sidelines and make positive change in their community. I know many, including myself, would not be where they are today without the support and guidance from Louise, and also thanks to the trial she blazed in her first ventures into politics in Monroe County."
Monroe County GOP Chairman Bill Reilich:
"She has long served her constituents with strength and passion and as a senior member in Congress is responsible for many initiatives and has secured both funding and support for many critical issues."
State Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton:
"She worked tirelessly to move our regional economy forward and to champion women’s rights. I had great respect for her. Louise was tenacious, determined and fought hard for what she believed in, yet compassionate."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown:
"Congresswoman Slaughter was a fierce advocate for Western New York and the progressive, Democratic values of New York State. Her compassion was boundless, and her tenacity was inspirational."
Rep. Tom Reed, R-NY 23:
"Louise worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of those in the Rochester region and Western New York. It was an honor to serve in the House with her over the years. My deepest sympathies go out to her family. She will be missed."
Assembly Majority Leader Carl Heastie, D-Bronx:
"There is no doubt that her work has been transformative for not only the people of Western New York, but all Americans."
University of Rochester Interim President Richard Feldman:
"Even while being elevated as one of the most powerful members of Congress, Louise always remembered where she came from and her first priority was to her community and her constituents."