- Associated Press - Friday, October 14, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Lucy Baxley, Alabama’s first female lieutenant governor and its last Democrat elected to statewide office, died Friday. She was 78.

A statement released by Baxley’s family said the lifelong Alabama resident died at her home. A cause of death wasn’t released, but Baxley had suffered a major stroke years before.

Baxley was elected lieutenant governor and presided over the Senate during a four-year term that began in 2003. She was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2006 but lost to Republican Bob Riley.

Baxley served as state treasurer before becoming lieutenant governor and she was elected president of the Alabama Public Service Commission in 2008 despite having suffering the stroke after her gubernatorial bid.

Known for her campaign slogan “I Love Lucy,” Baxley is survived by her husband Jim Smith; two children, Louis Baxley and Becky Nichols; and former husband Bill Baxley, himself a one-time lieutenant governor.

Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, a former state legislator, called Baxley “a great public servant.”

Lucy Baxley loved Alabama and loved the people of Alabama,” he said.

“She was an incredible cook, a watchful but stern teacher, a woman of many feelings but few outward emotions, and, most of all, she was a friend to all in need,” son Louis Baxley said in the family’s written statement. “But more than anything, she was the grandmother who brought a smile to my kids’ faces every time she held them, and for that I will always be grateful.”

Lucy Baxley, who grew up in rural Houston County, was a real estate agent before entering politics. Smith said he didn’t know what it would be like to be married to a politician when he asked her to marry him.

“I’m still not so sure about the politician part, but I do know what it was like to be married to the most caring and wonderful woman in the world,” Smith said in the statement.

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