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Betty Taymor, a pioneer in Democratic politics, dies at 100

Betty Taymor.
Betty Taymor.

Betty Taymor, a pioneering Democrat who rose to prominence in the 1960s as the state coordinator of presidential and senatorial campaigns for the Kennedys, has died at 100, her family said Wednesday.

Ms. Taymor died in her sleep at home in Dedham on Tuesday evening, according to her daughter, Laurie Taymor-Berry.

“She was a role model for women to pursue their own path,” Taymor-Berry said in an interview. All her life, Ms. Taymor wanted “to put women at the helm, to be seen as leaders in their own right, as human beings,” her daughter said.

Her death came a little more than two months after Massachusetts’ top Democrats celebrated her 100th birthday with a virtual event in March hosted by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston, which Ms. Taymor helped establish.

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During that celebration, Senator Edward J. Markey called Ms. Taymor “one of the most special people that our country has known” and said her legacy is towering.

Ms. Taymor treasured that celebration, and she watched the recording with her daughter on Sunday.

“She was smiling and she was so engaged, and she was sort of jiggling to the music of ‘Happy Days are Here Again,’” a song Ms. Taymor remembered fondly from the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidential campaigns, Taymor-Berry said.

That center and its scholarship in Ms. Taymor’s name were the great pride of her life, Taymor-Berry said.

“It helps [address] institutional racism and opens up the doors so that women from all walks of life have the opportunity … to have a seat at the table of power,” she said.

Ms. Taymor was a trailblazer who worked as the state coordinator for the campaigns of president John F. Kennedy, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and Congressman Robert F. Drinan before two unsuccessful runs for the Massachusetts Legislature, the Globe previously reported.

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The gains women have made since Ms. Taymor entered Massachusetts politics in the 1940s “gave her great joy and satisfaction and accomplishment,” her daughter said.

A full obituary will follow in the Globe.



Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.