JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Betty Anne Ward McCaskill, the mother of Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and a political trailblazer in her own right, died Monday at her home in St. Louis after a long struggle with heart and kidney problems, the senator said.
The first-term Democratic senator, who is locked in a close reelection race with Representative Todd Akin, a Republican, had canceled most of her campaign events starting last week to spend time with her 84-year-old mother.
She said Saturday that her mother suffered from acute cardio-renal failure and had lost consciousness at several points in recent days.
Long before her daughter entered Missouri politics, Betty Anne McCaskill had made her own mark in Democratic circles.
In 1970, she was appointed to the Missouri Commission on the Status of Women, which evaluated the opportunities for women in Missouri government, education, and business. The next year, she became the first woman elected to the Columbia, Mo., City Council.
She ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 1978 against Republican Leroy Blunt.
In 2004, she helped her daughter’s unsuccessful bid for governor by providing personal testimonies about the rising cost of medical care. She said at the time that her list of medicines had been steadily growing to the point that her costs far exceeded her annual prescription drug coverage through private insurance.
During McCaskill’s 2006 Senate campaign, her mother traveled around the state with her in an RV, appealing in particular to rural voters and seniors as she discussed the need to close coverage gaps in the Medicare prescription benefits.
In addition to Claire McCaskill, Betty Anne McCaskill leaves two other daughters, Anne Moroh and Lisa Finn; one son, Will McCaskill; six grandchildren; along with step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren.