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California Senator Dianne Feinstein passed away in September 2023 at the age of 90. She was the oldest member of Congress at the time of her passing, and had served for over 30 years. In the months before her death she had faced scrutiny for potential cognitive issues, and had been hospitalized briefly in April as the result of a fall. Her late husband’s estate was a source of tension for the Senator, as well, as her family was having trouble settling the issue and there were some arguments taking place over who was entitled to which pieces of that particular estate.
Regardless of the minor drama swirling around her toward the end of her life, Feinstein was well-regarded by her colleagues and a pioneering spirit in the Senate. She was a graduate of Stanford University and grew up in San Francisco. In 1969, she was elected to the County Board of Supervisors there, and this was her first introduction to a public political role. Feinstein would go on to become the first female mayor of San Francisco, and then would be elected to the Senate in 1992.
During her time in the Senate, Feinstein continued to have a lot of “firsts.” She was the first woman who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the first woman to be a part of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Along with those notable accomplishments, she was also the first woman to chair the Senate Rules Committee.
When Feinstein passed away, President Biden released a statement in which he called her “a cherished friend,” along with “a pioneering American” and a trailblazer. The Senator is survived by a daughter, Katherine Feinstein, who is a San Francisco County Superior Court Judge.
While Feinstein had her share of disagreements with colleagues and peers on the other side of the political aisle, and sometimes on her own side, she was instrumental in helping women make a space for themselves in politics. She showed that it could be done, and that it was possible to have a long career doing something of importance that she loved.
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