To hear former Sen. Frances Farley tell it, she had "an aggravated sense of social justice."
There's probably no better description of a woman who was an outspoken advocate of involving more women in politics, banishing the MX missile from Utah and removing sales tax from prescription drugs and food. Farley, 80, died Friday of complications associated with Alzheimer's disease.
She also fought for legislation that would prevent discrimination in housing, helped organize the Utah Women's political caucus in 1972 and led a movement to remove sexist language from the Utah code.
Farley, a Democrat, was elected to the Utah Senate in 1976. At the time, she was the first woman elected to the Utah Senate in 20 years. She served District 1 until 1982, when she made back-to-back but unsuccessful bids for Congress in 1982 and 1984. In the second attempt, she was defeated by a mere 436 votes.
After working as a hospital administrator for several years, she was re-elected to the Utah Senate in 1986. She served one term before retiring at the end of the 1990 legislative session.
Farley was a trailblazer in Utah politics as well as a strong advocate for women in the community at-large. She once staged a news conference blasting the University Club for not allowing her into its sports grill. The protest launched a movement that eventually led decades-old male-only private clubs to open memberships to women.
Although Farley left elective office in 1990, she encouraged other women to run, among them Karen Shepherd, who was elected to the Utah Legislature and Congress. "She led the way for all the women of Utah to follow, and if making a difference in the community is what matters to a life, as I think it very much mattered for her, she did that. She was a warrior for peace, for women, for human rights and for the environment," Shepherd said in a statement.
Indeed she was. Utah is better today because of Frances Farley. She left a mark that will not soon be forgotten.