via Orange County Twitter .
via Orange County Twitter .

Marian Bergeson, the first woman to be elected to both the California Assembly and state Senate, died Wednesday at the age of 90.

Bergeson died at the Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, the city where she made her first successful foray into politics with her election to the school board in 1964.

The Newport Beach resident was elected to the Assembly in 1978 and served until 1984, when she was elected to the state Senate, where she served three terms.

Bergeson also was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1994, but resigned two years later when she was appointed as the state’s Secretary of Education. She later served on the state Board of Education and the California Transportation Commission.

“California has lost a trailblazing political icon in Marian Bergeson, who exemplified the very best in public service,” said state Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel. “Few people have influenced Orange County and California politics more effectively than Marian did.”

Bates said Bergeson “was a strong champion of education and transportation and worked well with others — including those who disagreed with her. Her warm personality won her the admiration of many and will forever live in the hearts of those who knew her.”

She added, “I am blessed to have known Marian as a friend, as she was instrumental in helping me and many other Orange County women in running for public office. One of my happiest memories was Marian swearing me in as an Orange County supervisor in 2007.”

Assemblyman Bill Brough, R-Dana Point, said, “The passing of Marian Bergeson marks a day of both sadness at the loss of a friend, and also an important reflection of the life and career of a titan of public service in California.

“At all levels of Orange County government, and to the heights of Sacramento, Marian Bergeson blazed a trail and forged a path as an eminently creative, compassionate and collegial elected and appointed leader,” he said. “She was a person whose career and accomplishments commanded respect and regard, but in person was always warm and welcoming. We may be a long time in ever seeing the likes of Marian Bergeson again, but we will always have her shining example.”

Bergeson, who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, is survived by her husband, Garth, and children, Garth Jr., James and Julie McCormick. Daughter Nancy, who was a public defender in Portland, Oregon, was murdered in November 2009, and the crime remains unsolved.

–City News Serivce 

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