TN Rep. Lois DeBerry dies after battling pancreatic cancer

(WMC-TV) - One Tennessee trailblazer, humanitarian, and civil rights activist passed away Sunday.

Tennessee State Representative Lois DeBerry had been batting pancreatic cancer for nearly 5 years. According to a news release, Representative DeBerry passed away comfortably surrounded by family and friends after battling pancreatic cancer. At age 68, DeBerry will be remembered as an advocate for the less fortunate.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam expressed how deeply DeBerry will be missed.

"Coming in as a new governor, Lois quickly became one of my favorite people on Capitol Hill because of her wit, charm and dedication to her constituents. Lois was a history maker, a wonderful woman, a great legislator, and a true friend. I will miss her."

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton was a personal friend of Representative DeBerry and issued the following statement Sunday afternoon:

"Despite the accolades she continually received throughout her career, Lois remained equally at home among the well-to-do and political powerful as well as the residents in the neighborhoods of her district. She was unquestionably a woman of the people who never lost the common touch."

U.S. Senator Bob Corker also made the following statement on the passing of Tennessee State Representative Lois DeBerry:

"Lois' legacy will be remembered in Memphis and across our state for generations to come. I appreciate her many years of public service and her friendship and kindness. My heart goes out to her family during this difficult time."

DeBerry's many accomplishments include being the first African-American female elected to the State Legislature as well as the longest serving member of the Tennessee state house to date.

Funeral arrangements for Representative Lois DeBerry are pending. She leaves behind a husband and son.

DeBerry eventually became the first female speaker pro tem of the house and the only African-American to serve in that capacity to date.

A Memphis native, DeBerry graduated from Hamilton High School and LeMoyne-Owen College.

She's remembered as an advocate for the less fortunate and for her signature outspokenness.

Click here to view DeBerry's youtube video:

Below are the funeral arrangements for DeBerry:

First Baptist Church - Broad

  • 2835 Broad Avenue
  • Memphis, TN 38112

In lieu of flowers, in memoriam donations may be made to the following:

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network


Lois M. DeBerry Memorial Fund

  • National Black Caucus of State Legislators
  • P.O. Box 179
  • Madison, AL 35758

Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church

  • 1702 Silver Street
  • Memphis, TN 38106

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