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Public Statements

Mourning the Passing of Former Illinois Congresswoman Charlotte Thompson Reid

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the memory of a former member of this body and one of my personal role models, the distinguished gentlewoman from Illinois, Congresswoman Charlotte Thompson Reid, who passed away on January 25, 2007.

At the age of 93, Charlotte Reid leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of faithful public service that will be remembered always by the people of Illinois, and especially by those in her beloved hometown of Aurora.

As a young lady, Charlotte Reid attended Illinois College in Jacksonville and began her career as a professional singer on NBC radio. She was a singer under the name of Annette King on the very popular Don McNeil's Breakfast Club early morning radio show. I don't think that most of the members of this body would remember that show, but I remember listening to it as a child as I was getting ready for school.

Following the show in 1962, after the sudden death of her husband, Frank, after he had won a primary and before the general election, Charlotte Reid was asked to step in and take his place for a seat as representative in the U.S. Congress for the 15th District of Illinois. Renowned for her hard work, gentle charm and integrity, Charlotte Reid won the election and went on to serve almost five distinguished terms in the House of Representatives. She was known for hosting events of singing and music at her Washington, D.C., home after hours. Legend is that she probably was the first woman to appear on the House floor in a pantsuit, an event that was noted by the minority leader Gerald Ford that day.

At a time when only a dozen women had a voice in the Chamber, Charlotte, or ``Charlie'' as she was known to her friends, inspired not just me but an entire generation of women to take leadership roles in our communities.

Following her time in Congress, Charlotte continued to serve her country in many different capacities, including as a member of the Federal Communications Commission, she had been appointed by President Nixon; the Board of Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services; and the Presidential Task Force on International Private Enterprise.

Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct honor to take this opportunity to celebrate the legacy of one of Illinois' most venerable daughters. And to her family, I offer my heartfelt condolences and my prayers, especially her three children, including my good friend and former colleague in the Illinois General Assembly, State Representative Patricia Reid Lindner, her daughter, as well as her eight grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

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