DENVER (KDVR) — Lawmakers in Colorado and beyond are commemorating the life of Pat Schroeder.

Schroeder was the first woman to represent Colorado in Congress back in the ’70s. Schroeder’s congressional successor and others who were inspired by her service remembered the woman hailed as a trailblazer.

Fran Coleman was a state representative in Colorado from 1998 until 2006. She said Colorado’s first congresswoman was someone worthy of admiration.

“When I was first running for office way after she left office, I was asked who my role models were when the Denver Post interviewed me, and I gave them three: my mom, Mother Teresa and Pat Schroeder,” Coleman said.

Reps. Peter Rodino, D-N.J. and Pat Schroeder, D-Colo., face reporters on Capitol Hill
Reps. Peter Rodino, D-N.J. and Pat Schroeder, D-Colo., face reporters on Capitol Hill after they announced that they and other House cosponsors will reintroduce the Equal Rights Amendment, “to begin anew the battle to guarantee the basic Constitutional rights of women in America.” (AP Photo/John Duricka)

“The U.S. senators that served in the Senate, one of them was Bill Armstrong and the other one was Hank Brown. One of the things that I remembered was they’d designed their office after Pat Schroeder — in other words, how they reached out to her constituency,” Coleman said. “And I took that heart and when I set up my office here at the state level. I definitely made sure that I followed that model in how to reach constituency. And once in office, you no longer had sides — you served all.”

That’s the way many remember Pat Schroeder; as someone who served with dignity, no matter what was thrown at her.

Several, including Vice President Kamala Harris, recalled her service as the first woman on the House Armed Services committee. Schroeder’s successor, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, remembered that the appointment did not come easily.

“The chairman of that subcommittee was so outraged that a woman and a Black (person) would be on the committee that he gave them one chair to share — they had to sit in one seat. And they showed up and they did it with dignity and pride and they never let that chairman or anyone else get the better of them,” DeGette said.

FILE – Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, D-N.Y., left, and Pat Schroeder, D-Colo., are pictured at a news conference in Washington on July 31, 1979. Schroeder, a former Colorado representative and pioneer for women’s and family rights in Congress, has died at the age of 82. Schroeder’s former press secretary, Andrea Camp, said Schroeder suffered a stroke recently and died Monday night, March 13, 2023, at a hospital in Florida, the state where she had been residing. (AP Photo/John Duricka, File)

Schroeder was known for her work to get the Family and Medical Leave Act to become law and her consideration of a run for president. DeGette wants the younger generation to remember that serving as a woman during Schroeder’s time was very different than serving in Congress today.

“Not only were there no other women with little kids, there were hardly any other women in Congress when Pat got there. And what Pat used to say is one of her biggest triumphs was to get a women’s bathroom installed so the congresswomen could actually have a place to go to pee,” DeGette said at a news conference following Schroeder’s passing.

DeGette said she knows she cannot be Schroeder, but some of her advice will stick with her forever.

“My values are the same as Pat Schroeder’s. I’m a strong fighter for women’s rights, for family rights, for the environment, but I have a different personality than Pat, so I never try to have Pat’s personality. But I always do try to remember that you can disarm almost any situation with dignity and wit. That’s advice that she gave to me that I try to take to this day,” DeGette said.

Schroeder died at a hospital in Florida Monday night, her former press secretary confirmed. She was 82.