- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - Marian Bergeson, a well-known Orange County politician and the first woman to serve in both California’s Assembly and Senate, has died. She was 90.

Bergeson, who lawmakers called a trailblazer for female politicians, died due to complications from surgery for pancreatic cancer, Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff told The Orange County Register (https://bit.ly/29ieUKP ).

Bergeson was born in Salt Lake City and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in elementary education. She worked as a teacher in Newport Beach and began her political career as a Newport-Mesa school board member.

She was elected to the Assembly in 1978 and served three terms, before winning her Senate seat in 1984. She was one of the first two Republican women elected to California’s Senate.

In 1994, she moved to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, where she served until Republican Gov. Pete Wilson nominated her as education secretary.

In a statement, Republican Sen. Patricia Bates of Laguna Niguel called Bergeson instrumental in helping her and other Orange County women run for public office.

“We all started on local councils and committees and worked our ways up and so did Marian,” Bates told The Orange County Register. “That was her legacy for us - that you start there and achieve your goals all the way to Congress.”

During her time in the Legislature, Bergeson became known as a problem solver and a Republican who thought talking things through could solve any issue, Kiff said. He worked on her Senate legislative staff for eight years.

She was willing to work with members of both parties and pursue nonpartisan solutions, he said.

Republican Sen. Jean Fuller of Bakersfield wrote in a statement that Bergeson’s legacy will live on and continue to empower women across California.

Bergeson is survived by her husband, Garth Bergeson, and three children. One daughter, Nancy Bergeson, died in 2009.

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This story has been corrected to show that Bergeson won her Senate seat in 1984.

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