(Memphis) She was a powerful influence in Tennessee politics.
Colleagues respectfully referred to State Representative Lois DeBerry as ‘The Mom’ of the Tennessee General Assembly.
Representative G.A. Hardaway was one of her close friends.
“She’s always been a surrogate mom, nicknamed her the Capital Mom because everyone up there answered to her,” Hardaway said.
Over the years many answered to Lois DeBerry.
She was first elected in 1972 and was the longest-serving member of the Tennessee State House of Representatives and the second African-American woman to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly.
State Senator Jim Kyle told us by phone she was a peerless leader.
“I remind your listeners when Barack Obama decided to run for President of the United States it was Lois DeBerry he sought out to show him around Tennessee,” Kyle said.
Representative DeBerry also served as speaker pro tem in the house and leaders on both sides sought her support pushing through key legislation.
Otis Sanford is News Channel 3’s political commentator.
“Her ability to negotiate, to compromise, to get even the people who didn’t agree with her politically to see her side of the issues, that will be her legacy going forward,” Sanford said.
Her legacy was also helping poor people, children, senior citizens and college students.
“She was a friend of every child in the school room and a friend of every citizen of the state of Tennessee,” Kyle said.
It was a friendship that continued despite her battle with pancreatic cancer.
“She was able to take that and educate others about pancreatic cancer, to inspire others to fight as hard as she had fought,” Hardaway said.
Lois DeBerry, remembered for always fighting for the people and a political force always leading others in how to get the job done.
“We are still in prayer for the family. We know where her spirit is. She’s up there bossing stuff around, no doubt about it (laughter),” Hardaway said.
DeBerry was 68.