The words dignity and grace recur often in remembrances of Lindy Boggs. The former member of Congress and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican died at 97 after a career in politics that was marked by her multitude of friends and admirers.
When she wrote a memoir, it was characteristic that she recalled seemingly everybody she met in fond terms, a book of a million names.
Yet if the glow of her personality is remembered so fondly by generations of Louisianians in public life, it is fitting that she also be remembered as a politician, and a darn good one.
“Lindy was a true fighter, but she did it with incredible grace and the people of Louisiana are grateful for her service,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said at her death.
All true, but the fighter should not be forgotten.
She was elected to Congress to fill the seat of her husband, Hale Boggs, lost in an Alaska plane crash, but she became an effective member of the House. Her politeness and charm concealed a determination that allowed her to become part of the leadership of the House, breaking glass ceilings along the way but leaving every struggle not only successful but more widely appreciated.
As a dedicated Catholic from New Orleans, she would forcefully state the views of the United States to the pope himself. Perhaps the old fighter against communism in the Vatican recognized something in common with her, despite her meticulous manners.
As the representative of the United States, she could not be anything but aware of her duty.
To the end of her days, she was a proud Democrat who never lost sight of the best principles of her party, but she also worked across party lines on issues vital to the nation and Louisiana.
We cannot help but hope that if her charm cannot be equaled, her example of compromise and conciliation in political life will be emulated by a new generation.