Election 2002


Patsy Mink dies

Longtime U.S. congressman loses
month-long battle with pneumonia

Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, who had been hospitalized for nearly a month with viral pneumonia, died Saturday, her office said. She was 74.

Mink died at Straub Clinic and Hospital, where she had been treated since Aug. 30 for viral pneumonia stemming from chickenpox, according to a statement from her Washington office.

The Hawaii Democrat had been a member of the House for 24 years over two different stretches. She won re-election two years ago by a nearly two-to-one margin, and had been considered a sure winner in the Nov. 5 general election.

Mink's spokesman, Andy Winer, had issued a statement Friday saying the congresswoman's "prospects for a recovery are poor." Until then, Mink's family had said only that she was in serious but stable condition and was receiving treatment.

Her death came a week after she easily defeated little known perennial candidate Steve Tataii in the Sept. 21 primary election.

Mink was was an early opponent of the Vietnam War and accompanied fellow Rep. Bella Abzug, D-N.Y., to Paris to talk to participants in the Vietnam War peace talks.

She supported women's rights, was against the death penalty and had as her spending priorities education, housing and health. Mink's strong liberal stands led conservative opponents to dub her "Patsy Pink."

On June 2, during the final day of the 2002 Democratic Convention at the Sheraton-Waikiki, U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, center, received congratulations from party Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba and U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka after Mink delivered a speech.

Mink believed one of her most significant accomplishments in Congress was Title IX of the Education Act, which she helped author in 1972. It mandated gender equality in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

The law promotes equality in school athletics. Scholarship money for women increased from $100,000 in 1972 to $179 million in 1997 but was equally important in opening academics.

"To be frank," Mink said in 1997, the 25th anniversary of Title IX, "I though this was great, a beginning statement of policy and intent. At the moment we were doing it, we didn't think it would have this fantastic momentum and the enforcement of the courts."

After serving in the territorial and state legislatures, Mink was initially elected to Congress in 1964. She remained in the House until 1976, when she lost to fellow Rep. Spark Matsunaga in the Democratic primary for the Senate.

Matsunaga went on to win the election, but his death in 1990 led to Mink's return to Congress. She won a special election to fill out the term of Rep. Daniel Akaka, who was named to succeed Matsunaga in the Senate.

She was re-elected that year and in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000.

After losing her Senate bid, Mink remained in Washington for two years as an assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration.

She returned to elective politics in 1982, winning a four-year term on the Honolulu City Council. She gave up the seat after one term and made an unsuccessful run for governor.

Born Dec. 6, 1927 in Paia, Maui, Mink graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1948 before earning her law degree from the University of Chicago in 1951.

Mink became part of a movement, mostly composed of second-generation Japanese-Americans - many of them decorated World War II veterans - that enabled Democrats to wrest control of Hawaii politics from Republicans.

The GOP's decades-old grip was broken in 1954 when Democrats took control of the territorial Legislature. Mink was elected to the territorial House two years later, and won a seat in the state Senate in 1959.

She is survived by her husband, John Mink, and daughter, Wendy. Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly, according to a press release from family.

Patsy Takemoto Mink

Born: Dec. 6, 1927, in Paia, Maui
Married: John F. Mink
Daughter: Gwendolyn Mink, professor at Smith College
Education: Bachelor's degree from University of Hawaii, law degree from University of Chicago Law School
1953-64, 1987-90: Practicing attorney. She became the first Asian-American woman to practice law in Hawaii.
1956-58: Territorial House of Representatives. She was the first Asian-American woman elected to the Legislature.
1963-64: State Senate
1964-76: U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress.
1977-78: U.S. assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environment and scientific affairs
1983-87: Honolulu City Council member. She was chairwoman from 1983 to 1985.
1990-2002: U.S. House of Representatives

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --