Trailblazing former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder of Colorado dies at 82

Rep. Schroeder was considered a pioneer for women's and family's rights.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:11 AM MDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:29 AM MDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DENVER (KKTV) - Colorado is mourning the loss of former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder, who died Monday night in Florida at the age of 82.

In 1972, Schroeder became the first *woman elected to Congress from the Centennial State, and would go on to serve 12 terms. During her years in office, she was considered a pioneer for women’s and family’s rights, famously telling one congressman who asked how she could be a mother to two small children and a House representative simultaneously: “I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both.”

Schroeder was the first woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee, and in the late 80s briefly considered running for president. Her greatest legacy may be her efforts to pass the Family Medical Leave Act, which was signed into law in 1993 and provides job protection for care of a newborn, a sick child or a parent.

“Rep. Schroeder was a one-of-a-kind leader and barrier breaker. Marlon and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Pat, a friend, a leader, and a champion for Colorado and our nation. We send our deepest condolences to Pat’s family and all of the lives she touched and dreams she inspired across our state and country. Our daughter’s future and women across our country’s future are better thanks to her service,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement Monday night.

He expanded on his statement in a post on his Facebook page:

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and mentor Pat Schroeder, age 82. I have known Pat since my childhood, and she was a dear friend to our family. Her frequent emails always brought a smile to my face and she was so proud of the work we are doing here in Colorado. Pat Schroeder was the first woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives from Colorado (1973-1997). She championed family leave, healthcare, and equal rights. She was known and loved for her incredible sharp wit including such lasting contributions as coining the phrase “Teflon President” regarding then-President Ronald Reagan, “Nobody ever says to men, how can you be a Congressman and a father,” “You measure a government by how few people need help,” and “I have a brain and a uterus and I use both” among many others. Her wit, her passion, her love for country will be missed not only by those who knew her, but by our whole state and the entire nation. Farewell Pat, and thank you for being uniquely yourself.”

Schroeder’s exact cause of death has not been released, but her former press secretary has said she suffered a recent stroke.