Image courtesy of Library of Congress
Pennsylvania Representatives Vera Buchanan and Frank Buchanan were the first congressional husband and wife duo to pass away while in office.
On this date, Representative Vera Buchanan
of Pennsylvania passed away during her third term in the House, becoming the first Congresswoman to die in office. After winning a special election to the 82nd Congress
(1951–1953) to succeed her late husband Frank Buchanan
, Congresswoman Buchanan tended to the interests of her steel-making district and emerged as an early critic of the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration’s Cold War policy of “massive retaliation.” Diagnosed in June 1955 with a terminal illness, Buchanan tried to carry on her congressional work from her hospital bed—first at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and, later, in a hospital in McKeesport, Pa. During her final days, House Majority Leader John McCormack
of Massachusetts visited Buchanan. When he rose to leave, Buchanan said, “Good-bye, my friend.” McCormack replied, “I won't say ‘good-bye,’ just ‘so long.’ I'll see you up in the Gallery.” Representative Abraham Multer
of New York eulogized the Congresswoman and her husband: “I learned to know Vera Buchanan as I had known Frank Buchanan, loyal, hard-working, intelligent, and considerate. . . . They had a keen sense of devotion to the services of the people of this country—not only their district but of the country.”