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Former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, a pioneer for women's rights, dies at 82


The first woman that Colorado ever sent to Congress has died. In 1972, Pat Schroeder was 32 years old and a mother of two when she became one of just 14 women in the U.S. House of Representatives. Here she is in 1998 on NPR's Fresh Air.

PAT SCHROEDER: There were no women pages, no women interns, no women anything. I mean, it really was the guy gulag. And the attitude was, you're just so lucky that we let you on the House floor.


Schroeder was the first woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee. She co-founded the Congressional Women's Caucus. She fought for equal pay, the Equal Rights Amendment and family leave.

PFEIFFER: And she was known for her passion and her wit. If you've heard the term Teflon president to describe the late President Ronald Reagan, it began with Schroeder.

SCHROEDER: And then one morning, I was doing eggs on a Teflon pan. And I suddenly thought, that's it. This guy has a Teflon coat just like this doggone pan.

FADEL: (Laughter) Reviled in some political circles and revered as a feminist icon in others, she left office in 1997.

SCHROEDER: I always wanted to go out at the top of my game, you know? We always said that you came out of Congress one of three different ways, by a ballot box, by a coffin-type box or you can walk out on your own. And I wanted to walk out on my own.

FADEL: She titled her memoir "24 Years Of Housework... And The Place Is Still A Mess."

PFEIFFER: She had some final plans that she shared on NPR's All Things Considered.

SCHROEDER: I always wanted to be cremated and made into a doorstop so I could hold a door open because basically what I want to do is hold doors open for people. And I figured that's what I was trying to do in my political career. So why not try and do it in the afterlife, too?

PFEIFFER: Pat Schroeder was 82.

(SOUNDBITE OF LEAVV'S "PAVED PATHS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.