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First female lieutenant governor of Wisconsin has died

March 8, 2022 GMT

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — Margaret Farrow, the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor in Wisconsin, died Tuesday. She was 87.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, her son, said in a statement that he felt fortunate to have been raised by one of his personal heroes.

“She was a trailblazer. Not only because of her significant positions as a woman in what was very much a man’s world at the time, but because of the way she stood up for all of the people of our community and our state to represent their best interests for decades,” he said.

The former lieutenant governor spent decades in politics, beginning as a trustee in the Waukesha County Village of Elm Grove. Margaret Farrow was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1986 and was elected to the state Senate three years later, then reelected in 1990, 1994 and 1998.

In 2001, Farrow, a Republican, was appointed lieutenant governor after the man who held that office, Scott McCallum, became governor when Tommy Thompson departed to become U.S. Health and Human Services secretary.

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Farrow downplayed the significance of her being the first female lieutenant governor in state history.

“I’ve never run as a woman,” she told The Associated Press in 2002. “I’m ready to represent all of my constituents.”

McCallum told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday that he didn’t choose her to be his lieutenant governor because of her gender, even though she broke barriers for women.

“We’ve lost a very decent person. Just a very good human being who is willing to serve the public,” McCallum said. “She was kind. She wanted to do things for people both in government and outside of government. In her personal life, she continued to express that good.

“Margaret really was a peach of a human being,” he said.

She worked on various boards, committees, commissions and task forces through 2021, her son said.

Former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, said as a college student he volunteered to work on Farrow’s first run for state Senate before they later served together in the state Assembly.

“She was a conservative icon,” Walker said. “She was a mentor and a friend.”

Current office holders also praised Farrow.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who served on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents with Farrow, said he “was always grateful for her perspective and her kindness.”

And Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called her a “great leader who stood up for everyone in her community and represented our state with grace.”

“She was incredibly talented and inspired many, not only because she was the first female Lieutenant Governor, but because of her long legacy of public service,” Vos said in a statement.

Her family said she passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones at home in Pewaukee. No cause of death was released. Funeral arrangements are pending.