Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as the U.S. secretary of state, died Wednesday at age 84. Her family confirmed in a statement that Albright died of cancer, adding that she was surrounded by family and friends at the time of her passing. The statement read: “We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend,” as well as a “tireless champion of democracy and human rights.”
Former President Bill Clinton named Albright the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations shortly after he was inaugurated in 1993, and nominated her as the secretary of state three years later. She was confirmed in 1997 by a vote of 99-0. At the time, she was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. Albright served in the post for four years.
On Wednesday, Clinton remembered Albright as “an extraordinary human being” adding “because she knew firsthand that America’s policy decisions had the power to make a difference in people’s lives around the world, she saw her jobs as both an obligation and an opportunity. And she made the most of them in advancing peace, security and shared prosperity.” The former president said he last spoke to Albright two weeks ago, sharing: “She never lost her great sense of humor or her determination to go out with her boots on, supporting Ukraine in its fight to preserve freedom and democracy.”
After leaving public office, Albright went on to teach at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and became a prolific author, writing seven New York Times bestsellers. In 2012, former President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.
Albright is survived by three daughters and six grandchildren, as well as a brother and a sister.
Editorial credit: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com