Women’s Champion Griffiths Dies at 91; Former Wyo. Rep. Dies

Posted April 25, 2003 at 1:58pm

Former Michigan Democratic Rep. Martha Griffiths died April 22 at her home in Armada, Mich., at age 91. She was known for her sassy style and sharp tongue on the House floor.

Griffiths served in the House of Representatives from 1955 to 1974. During her 24 years as a Democratic lawmaker and eight as lieutenant governor, Griffiths worked for women’s causes.

She dedicated her life to campaigning for women — their rights, their work and securing their role in American history.

Griffiths’ greatest legislative achievement was her successful lobbying to add the word sex to the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. The addition of the three-letter word gave women equal protection. Opponents scoffed at her suggestion.

For 20 minutes on the floor she scolded her mostly male colleagues for their cowardice, saying, “A vote against this amendment today by a white man is a vote against his wife or his widow or his daughter or his sister.”

Her second achievement came in 1970 when she forced the Equal Rights Amendment out of the House committee where it had been for 47 years.

Griffiths, who had been ill for some time, died in her home surrounded by friends and staff.

Ex-Wyoming Rep. Roncalio, 87, Dies. Teno Roncalio (D), who served Wyoming in the House of Representative from 1965 to 1967 and again from 1971 to 1979, died March 30 at a medical facility in Cheyenne.

During his terms in office, Roncalio worked to increase his home state’s share of mineral royalties. Roncalio ran an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 1966. In 1978 he did not seek re-election. Republican Dick Cheney, now vice president, succeeded him.

Before serving in Congress, Roncalio was a lawyer and deputy prosecuting attorney of Laramie County. He also served as chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Central Committee.

Roncalio, 87, had congestive heart failure.

— E. Annie Hall