NEW YORK — Marilyn Lloyd, a conservative Democrat who in 1974 became the first woman from Tennessee to be elected to a full term in Congress, winning a House seat that she held for the next two decades, died Wednesday in Hixson, Tenn. She was 89.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, her daughter Nancy McConnell said.
Ms. Lloyd was thrust into politics after her husband, Mort Lloyd, a popular television news anchor, died in a plane crash shortly after winning the Democratic nomination to represent Tennessee’s third district in the House of Representatives.
Democratic officials chose Ms. Lloyd to replace him on the ballot, even though her only political experience had been in helping her husband’s campaign.
Though running in a conservative district in eastern Tennessee, Ms. Lloyd narrowly defeated the two-term Republican incumbent, LaMar Baker, at least in part because of anti-Republican backlash after the Watergate scandal.
She was not the first woman to represent Tennessee in the House. Three others had won special elections to complete their husbands’ terms after they died, but none served a full term.
In her 10 terms in the House, Ms. Lloyd served on the armed services and science committees and a select committee on the aging, among other panels.
She was willing to break with her party when she disagreed with it, particularly over projects that benefited her district.
After overcoming breast cancer in the early 1990s, Ms. Lloyd began to adopt more progressive stances on women’s issues, becoming an advocate for policies in support of women’s health.
In her reelection bid in 1992 she barely defeated her Republican opponent, Zach Wamp, and in 1993 she announced that she would retire after serving out her term.
In addition to McDonnell, Ms. Lloyd’s survivors include another daughter from her first marriage, Mari Stanfill; a son from her second, Morton Lloyd II; four grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.