Mar 14, 2023 - Politics

Remembering Colorado icon Pat Schroeder

Former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder addresses the crowd at the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York. Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Pat Schroeder wanted to be an aerodynamic engineer, not a congresswoman, and at age 15, she earned her pilot's license.

Yes, but: "I remember getting to college and they said, 'No, you can't do that,'" she once told me. "And I remember my counselor saying, 'What would you do with it? Hang it over the changing table over your baby?'"

  • She scoffed. "But we changed that," Schroeder continued. "That doesn’t happen now."

Why it matters: Schroeder, the first woman elected to Congress from Colorado, a 24-year lawmaker and a vocal advocate for women and families, is a big part of the reason it "doesn't happen now."

What to know: She died Monday night at a Florida hospital near her home after suffering a recent stroke. Schroeder was 82.

🗯 My thought bubble: Back in 2016, as Hillary Clinton ran for president, I talked to Schroeder at length about her career and modern politics. Looking at the conversation again, I find much of what she said still resonates.

  • In a part of the interview that didn't make the final story, I asked her: All these years later, what does being the first congresswoman in Colorado mean to you?

What she said: "I was always very proud that the West was way ahead of the rest of the country in women's rights," she said.

The bottom line: Schroeder helped continue Colorado's legacy of equity — all because she never became a pilot.


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