MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Hundreds of people filled a church in Memphis to remember the life of state Rep. Lois DeBerry, who died last weekend after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. She was 68.
In a memorial service befitting the passing of a head of state, a former Vice-President of the United States, past and present Tennessee Governors, city and county Mayors and a host of judges, legislators and national power-brokers all came in person to the Broad Street First Baptist Church to reflect upon the life and loss of a woman of substance.
Representative Lois DeBerry didn't invent politics, but with tenacity, a strength of character and the courage of her convictions, she learned how to make it work for the benefit of those in need of her help.
Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism says, "She was before her time. She was just a young lady that loved politics and loved people. That within itself defined her as a person."
Former Tennessee Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh says, "She knew how to work a bill or work an idea. She also knew how to work across the aisle to the Republicans or some Democrats that might not have wanted to vote with her and say 'Come on Baby! I need you this time.'"
Former Memphis State Senator Roscoe Dixon says, "She grew up in a hard life in Bunker Hill and she wanted to make a difference and she really, really made a difference. Not just in the community. You have to go around the world."
Former Vice President Al Gore also took part in the ceremony saying, "A long time from now, generations from now, people will talk about how when they were younger, they were inspired by Lois DeBerry."
DeBerry died at the age of 68 after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. DeBerry was the first African-American woman to serve in the state legislature. She also served as the Speaker Pro Tem of the Tennessee house.