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 December 16, 2023

Betty Cooper Hearnes, former Missouri first lady and lawmaker, dead at 96

Former Missouri First Lady Betty Cooper Hearnes, who left quite the legacy on Missouri politics, has passed away. 

Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker confirmed her death on Thursday, noting that she passed at her Charleston, Missouri home surrounded by family, including her children and grandchildren.

According to the Southeast Missourian, Hearnes served the state of Missouri in many different positions, including as a lawmaker and a former first lady.

She was married to Warren Eastman Hearnes (D), the 46th governor of the state from 1965 to 1973.

The Missouri Democratic Party released a lengthy statement on Hearnes' passing, praising her for her work in and out of public service.

"The Missouri Democratic Party is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former First Lady Betty Cooper Hearnes, a devoted public servant and Democratic Party leader.  Read MDP's full statement attached," the party posted on X. 

"There’s no first lady of Missouri that I admired more than Betty Hearnes. Her do-it-all, have-fun and never-give-up attitude served her well throughout her extraordinary life of service to her community and state," Jean Carnahan said in the release.

A long list of her friends, colleagues and fellow politicians released statements remembering Hearnes fondly for her time in office and her roles in the church and other activities outside of politics.

Former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) released a statement on her passing.

"She was formidable. Smart, faithful, and intelligent. Knew how to be a friend to others and the State of Mo. Former First Lady of Mo and former State Representative Betty Cooper Hearnes has passed. She will be missed," McCaskill wrote.

"RIP former Missouri First Lady Betty Cooper Hearnes, 96, who passed at home in Charleston. She and Gov. Warren Hearnes, who died 2009, were a potent political team. A former #moleg rep, she made an unsuccessful 1988 bid for governor. Tough competitor, loyal Democrat, fine lady," an X user wrote.

Clearly, she will be fondly remembered.

Written By:
Ryan Ledendecker

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