Albright, the 1st female US secretary of state, has died of cancer at 84.
Madeleine Albright, a child refugee from Nazi- and then Soviet-dominated eastern Europe who became the first female US secretary of state and a mentor to many current and former American statesmen and women, has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday. She was 84.
Albright was chosen by former President Bill Clinton to be America’s top diplomat in 1996, elevating her from her post as US ambassador to the United Nations, where she was only the second woman to hold that job.
As secretary of state, Albright was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the US government. She was not in the line of succession to the presidency, however, because she was a native of Prague. The glass ceiling that she broke was universally admired, even by her political detractors.
In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying her life was an inspiration to all Americans.
In announcing her death, Albright’s family said she died of cancer and was surrounded by family and friends: “We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend,” the statement said.
Pennsylvania lawmakers quickly took to social media to share condolences.
State Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) recalled being invited to dine at Albright’s house while US Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) referenced Albright’s influence on her decision to wear brooches.
Gov. Tom Wolf said Albright would be remembered for her groundbreaking career in public service, a sentiment echoed by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who described her as someone “who broke barriers through her public service and a role model to so many.”
US Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) praised Albright for her diplomacy, citing her “unwavering commitment to coalition building.”
State Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) remembered Albright as a “trailblazer for women everywhere.”
Associate editor Patrick Berkery contributed to this report.