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ST. LOUIS, MO (KCTV/AP) -
The mother of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has died.
McCaskill's campaign said that 84-year-old Betty Anne Ward McCaskill died Monday at her home in St. Louis. The Democratic senator had said Saturday that her mother suffered from "acute cardio-renal failure" and had lost consciousness at several points in recent days.
Starting last Tuesday, Claire McCaskill canceled most events in her re-election campaign against Republican Todd Akin in order to spend time with her mother.
In a statement, Claire McCaskill said she was sad to announce her mother's death.
"For some time, mom's health has not been good, and our family takes comfort that she is now at rest. People all over the state have asked about her, and their prayers and concern have been greatly appreciated," according to the statement. "Mom never met a stranger and lived life with enthusiasm that none of us could match. We were incredibly lucky to have a mother like her, a woman of great intellect and strength, who loved and nurtured, challenged and pushed, and was always there with wise counsel and great humor. While we know she's finally at peace, our family and her friends will all miss her so very much. Her death creates a hole in my life that will never be filled."
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd., in St. Louis. In lieu of flowers the family suggests a contribution to the Betty Anne McCaskill Scholarship Fund, 109 Reynolds Alumni Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.
Betty Anne McCaskill was a political trailblazer in her own regard. She was the first woman elected to the Columbia City Council in 1971. She also aided her daughter's campaigns over the years, oftentimes drawing attention to the rising costs of health care for seniors.
Claire McCaskill's Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, has yet to issue a statement.
Betty Anne McCaskill's fervent support for her daughter on the campaign trail in 2006 helped propel Claire McCaskill to victory. She was known as a plain spoken, colorful, sensible woman. In one campaign ad, she touted her daughter's integrity, hard work and guts.
"Throughout her life, Betty Anne was a steadfast advocate for Missouri's women and families, working to ensure her daughters and granddaughters had the same opportunities as her son and grandsons," according to Claire McCaskill's office. "Her life was marked by a sustained passion for encouraging women to get involved in politics and their communities."
At Halloween in 1960, the McCaskill children went door to door saying, "Trick or treat and vote for JFK." Betty Anne McCaskill ran unsuccessfully for the Missouri General Assembly. Her opponent in 1978 was Leroy Blunt, father of now Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican from Missouri.
In addition to her famous daughter, she is survived by her children: Anne Moroh, Lisa Finn and Will McCaskill as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The Jackson County Democratic Party issued a statement.
"Our heart aches for Sen. McCaskill and the entire McCaskill Family today. We join with Missourians all over the state in mourning the loss of this pioneer in Missouri politics," said Tom Wyrsch, chairman of the Jackson County Democrats.
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