Mary Louise Smith, a lifelong defender of reproductive freedom and women’s rights, died of lung cancer on August 22. In her 82 years, Smith achieved much and inspired many. Smith chaired the Republican National Committee from 1974-1977 and remains the first and only woman to have served in that post.
Smith was a founding member of the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus and served on the board of directors for the Iowa chapter of Planned Parenthood from 1986-1992. In 1991, Smith helped to create the women’s archives for her alma mater, the University of Iowa. Iowa State University established a Mary Louise Smith Endowed Chair in Women and Politics in her honor.