Former Tennessee legislator Kathryn Bowers has died

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A powerful force in the Memphis Political scene has passed.

Kathryn Bowers started her career in public service in the 70's and made her way to the Tennessee Senate where she got caught up in a federal corruption crack down.

But many in the political world told WREG that's not how her career in public service should be remembered.

Powerful, visionary, committed, friend.

These are all words Kathryn Bowers' loved ones used to describe her, including Lexie Carter.

"I was devastated because I thought she had more time," she explained.

Carter served on the Shelby county Democratic Party under Bowers.

Now Carter serves as secretary, but credited her position today to the opportunities Bowers presented her with.

"She interviewed me, and asked what my interests were," Carter said. "I told her I did a lot of writing so she put me on the newspaper and now I'm the editor of that newspaper!"

Bowers got her start in the political scene on the Shelby County Election Commission.

She was supported by powerful African American women in Memphis who helped launch her career to the state level in 1995 where she served in the House of Representatives for a decade, and the Senate for a partial term.

"Although she was of a small stature she was a giant in the legislature," Carter added.

Bowers sponsored legislation aimed at protecting women and advancing minorities, but many only remembered her for her connection to the FBI corruption sting known as Operation: Tennessee Waltz.

Bowers eventually plead guilty to bribery and served 16 months in federal prison.

"No one should be measured by the mistakes that they make," Carter added.

But once Bowers got out she got right back into the game.

Javier Bailey grew up watching her political career unfold and was very proud to call her a friend all the way to the end.

"When she could no longer be an elected official she went back to that grassroot politics," Bailey explained, "Which is where she got her start."

Bowers worked to register voters and get them to the polls for President Obama's second term election, even while she was sick.

Bowers passed Wednesday morning. She was 72 years old.