LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Southern California politicians reacted Saturday to the death of Geraldine Ferrarro, the former New York congresswoman and first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket.

Ferraro died just before 10 a.m. Saturday in Boston, where the 75-year-old was being treated for complications of blood cancer, said Amanda Fuchs Miller, a family friend who worked for Ferraro in her 1998 Senate bid and was acting as a spokeswoman for the family.

“My heart is filled with sadness at the passing of Geraldine Ferrarro,” Sen. Barbara Boxer said. “This history-making woman was my colleague and my friend.”

Rep. Maxine Waters said Ferrarro had “ascended to political power and fame during the women’s movement” and had worked with “some of the greats like Gloria Steinem, [and former congresswomen] Patsy Mink, Pat Schroeder and Barbara Mikulski.”

Ferrarro, a former prosecutor, was in Congress when Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale tapped her to be his running mate. They lost in the Ronald Reagan “Morning in America” reelection landslide.

For his part, Mondale remembered his former running mate as “a remarkable woman and a dear human being.”

“She was a pioneer in our country for justice for women and a more open society. She broke a lot of molds and it’s a better country for what she did,” Mondale told The Associated Press.

Ferraro died at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she had gone Monday for a procedure to relieve back pain caused by a fracture. Such fractures are common in people with her type of blood cancer because of the thinning of their bones, said Dr. Noopur Raje, the Mass General doctor who treated her.

Ferraro, however, developed pneumonia, which made impossible to perform the procedure, and it soon became clear she didn’t have long to live, Raje said. Since she was too ill to return to New York, her family went to Boston.

Raje said it seemed Ferraro held out until her husband and three children arrived. They were all at her bedside when she passed, she said.

“Gerry actually waited for all of them to come, which I think was incredible,” said Raje, director of the myloma program at the hospital’s cancer center. “They were all able to say their goodbyes to Mom.”

In a statement, Obama praised Ferraro as a trailblazer who had made the world better for his daughters.

“Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live,” Obama said.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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