Former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan, who became the first female senator to represent Missouri after she was appointed to replace her husband following his death, died Tuesday. She was 90.

Carnahan was appointed to the Senate in 2001 after the posthumous election of her husband, Gov. Mel Carnahan, and she served until 2002.

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“Mom passed peacefully after a long and rich life. She was a fearless trailblazer. She was brilliant, creative, compassionate and dedicated to her family and her fellow Missourians,” her family said in a statement.

Her family did not specify the cause of death but said Carnahan died after a brief illness.

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Carnahan was born Dec. 20, 1933, in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the nation’s capital. Her father worked as a plumber and her mother as a hairdresser.

She met Mel Carnahan, the son of a Missouri congressman, at a church event, and they became better acquainted after sitting next to each other at a class in high school, according to information provided by the family. They were married on June 12, 1954.

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Jean Carnahan graduated a year later from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in business and public administration, and they later raised four children on a farm near Rolla, Missouri.

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She served as first lady of Missouri after her husband’s election as governor in 1992 and through his two terms.

On Oct. 16, 2000, the governor, the couple’s son, Roger, and an aide died in a plane crash. After Mel Carnahan was elected posthumously three weeks later, the acting governor appointed Jean Carnahan to feel the seat left vacant by her husband’s death.

She served from Jan. 3, 2001, to Nov. 25, 2002.

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