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Jan. 31, 2024Jefferson City, Mo. |  By: AP

Missouri mourns the death of Jean Carnahan, the state’s 1st woman to serve in the US Senate

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri residents on Wednesday mourned the death of former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan, who became the state’s first female U.S. senator when she was appointed to replace her husband following his death.

The Missouri state House held a moment of silence to mark Carnahan’s Tuesday death at age 90. Her family did not specify the cause of death but said Carnahan died after a brief illness at a hospice facility in suburban St. Louis.

Carnahan, a Democrat, was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2001 after the posthumous election of her husband, Gov. Mel Carnahan, and she served until 2002.

President Joe Biden in a statement said he’s proud to have called her a “dear friend.”

“In the face of unspeakable loss, she found the courage to step up into work she’d never imagined, putting the people and values she believed in above her personal comfort in order to serve our nation,” Biden said.

Carnahan’s public memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 10 at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis.

Missouri Democratic Party Executive Director Matthew Patterson in a statement described Jean Carnahan as a “fierce and brilliant public servant” and a “trailblazer.”

Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said she “survived tragedy with grit and grace.”

“I know her family will miss her terribly, along with all of us lucky enough to be her friend,” McCaskill said in a statement.