Tennessee trailblazer, longtime lawmaker Lois DeBerry remembered - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tennessee trailblazer, longtime lawmaker Lois DeBerry remembered by Mid-South

The longtime lawmaker had been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly five years before she died. The longtime lawmaker had been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly five years before she died.
She was the first African-American female elected to the State Legislature from Memphis and Shelby County in 1972. She was the first African-American female elected to the State Legislature from Memphis and Shelby County in 1972.

(WMC-TV) - Hundreds of family members and friends filled First Baptist Church on Broad Avenue Saturday to remember a Tennessee trailblazer, humanitarian, and civil rights activist.

City leaders say Tenn. Representative Lois DeBerry was unquestionably a "woman of the people" who never lost the common touch. At age 68, DeBerry will be remembered as an advocate for the less fortunate.

Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell was often on different ends of the political spectrum; however, Harwell praises DeBerry's commitment to the people.

"At times when I knew she was tired and knew she was in pain, she was at the capital working with a smile on her face," stated Harwell.

The longtime lawmaker had been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly five years before she died last Sunday.

Harwell continued, "She taught us how to live and she taught us how to die...what a legacy Tennessee has lost, a political icon."

"She taught us how to live and she taught us how to die...what a legacy Tennessee has lost, a political icon."

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam stated he will miss DeBerry's intelligence, conviction, and perseverance.

"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," said Haslam.

A Memphis native, DeBerry graduated from Hamilton High School and LeMoyne-Owen College. She was the first African-American female elected to the State Legislature from Memphis and Shelby County in 1972.

She was also the first female speaker pro tempore of the house and the only African-American to serve in that capacity to date.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker says her legacy will be remembered in Memphis and across the 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," he said.

Many people gave emotional speeches about DeBerry's life and work during the legacy service Saturday, including Haslam, Memphis mayor A C Wharton, and former vice president Al Gore.

Characterizing her as "Lady D", he said DeBerry will always be remembered for her character, and commitment, and determination.

"The essence of Lois I would like to speak about is her character ... her joy ... her dedication ... her constant determination and her commitment to make her city, her country, her world a better place," said Gore.

Former colleagues said during DeBerry's battle of cancer, she still came to work with a smile.

"She taught us how to live, she taught us how to die. Tennessee has lost a political icon," said speaker of Tennessee House Beth Harwell.

Lois DeBerry leaves behind a husband and son.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

  • News on WMCTV.comNewsMore>>

  • Holly Springs man gunned down 1 week before wedding

    Holly Springs man gunned down 1 week before wedding

    Saturday, April 29 2017 11:47 PM EDT2017-04-30 03:47:19 GMT
    Terry Halloway (Source: submission)Terry Halloway (Source: submission)

    Police in Holly Springs are investigating after a man was shot and killed early Saturday morning in the area of West College Avenue near McKinney Street.

    More >>

    Police in Holly Springs are investigating after a man was shot and killed early Saturday morning in the area of West College Avenue near McKinney Street.

    More >>
  • FIRST ALERT: Timing for weekend rain and storms

    FIRST ALERT: Timing for weekend rain and storms

    Saturday, April 29 2017 11:43 PM EDT2017-04-30 03:43:14 GMT
    There will be a couple of rounds of showers and storms this weekend.  * Storms continue overnight * Windy & mild * Flash flooding possible A FLASH FLOOD WATCH is in effect Sunday 7 a.m. through 5 p.m. Watch out for flash flooding, as 1-3 inches and locally higher amounts may be seen throughout the day Sunday, mainly from Memphis west into AR. TONIGHT: Scattered showers and overnight storms. Windy and warm. Winds: S 15-25 mph. Low: 71. THIS WEEKEND:&...More >>
    There will be a couple of rounds of showers and storms this weekend.  * Storms continue overnight * Windy & mild * Flash flooding possible A FLASH FLOOD WATCH is in effect Sunday 7 a.m. through 5 p.m. Watch out for flash flooding, as 1-3 inches and locally higher amounts may be seen throughout the day Sunday, mainly from Memphis west into AR. TONIGHT: Scattered showers and overnight storms. Windy and warm. Winds: S 15-25 mph. Low: 71. THIS WEEKEND:&...More >>
  • Mr. Belding meets fans at Redbirds game

    Mr. Belding meets fans at Redbirds game

    Saturday, April 29 2017 11:39 PM EDT2017-04-30 03:39:58 GMT

    Dennis Haskins, who played the principal America fell in love with on "Saved By The Bell," was at the Memphis Redbirds game greeting fans as part of a 90s night promotion. 

    More >>

    Dennis Haskins, who played the principal America fell in love with on "Saved By The Bell," was at the Memphis Redbirds game greeting fans as part of a 90s night promotion. 

    More >>
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 'The Phantom' serial killer of children out of prison, living in Tucson

    'The Phantom' serial killer of children out of prison, living in Tucson

    Thursday, April 27 2017 12:17 AM EDT2017-04-27 04:17:43 GMT
    Friday, April 28 2017 11:32 PM EDT2017-04-29 03:32:02 GMT
    Convicted killer William Huff was spotted riding his bicycle through a Tucson neighborhood. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)Convicted killer William Huff was spotted riding his bicycle through a Tucson neighborhood. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    William Huff terrorized Sierra Vista during the spring and summer of 1967. Despite a sentence of 40 years to life, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to release him from prison into home arrest. Family members of the victims are concerned for the safety of the community, as are new members of the Clemency Board. CBS 5 Investigates videotaped Huff riding a bike through his Tucson neighborhood. There are no restrictions placed on his proximity to children.

    More >>

    William Huff terrorized Sierra Vista during the spring and summer of 1967. Despite a sentence of 40 years to life, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to release him from prison into home arrest. Family members of the victims are concerned for the safety of the community, as are new members of the Clemency Board. CBS 5 Investigates videotaped Huff riding a bike through his Tucson neighborhood. There are no restrictions placed on his proximity to children. 

    More >>
  • Severe reaction to new sandals leads woman on a painful path

    Severe reaction to new sandals leads woman on a painful path

        One woman wants to warn people about her painful path, the result of a severe and debilitating allergic reaction.  She had no idea what she was allergic to until she visited a fourth emergency room in two weeks.    

    More >>

    One woman wants to warn people about her painful path, the result of a severe and debilitating allergic reaction. She had no idea what she was allergic to until she visited a fourth emergency room in two weeks.    

    More >>
  • BREAKING

    Officials: 5 dead during weekend storms, casualties may increase

    Officials: 5 dead during weekend storms, casualties may increase

    Sunday, April 30 2017 12:31 AM EDT2017-04-30 04:31:34 GMT

    Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued Saturday for multiple East Texas counties.

    More >>

    Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued Saturday for multiple East Texas counties.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly