The last surviving woman to represent South Carolina in Congress has passed away.
Former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Patterson, D-Spartanburg, died Saturday, according to the Herald Journal newspaper. She was 78 years old.
Patterson represented South Carolina’s Fourth District in the Upstate from 1987 until 1993. The Democrat still remains the only woman elected to Congress from South Carolina on her own campaign. Three other women previously represented the state in Congress, but each of them replaced their husbands who had died in office.
She was born Elizabeth Johnston in 1939, the daughter of powerful former governor and then-U.S. Sen. Olin Johnston. She spent most of her childhood in Maryland, but attended Columbia College and the University of South Carolina. She was hired to the Office of Economic Opportunity in the 1960s and gradually worked her way through government to be appointed Head Start program manager in South Carolina.
Patterson was first elected to Spartanburg City Council, then the state Senate in 1978. She remained in that post until winning the seat of incoming Gov. Carroll Campbell, II in 1986. She served three terms before she was defeated in the 1992 election by Republican candidate Bob Inglis.
She also unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 1994, losing to Bob Peeler in the general election.
After leaving campaign life, Patterson worked at Converse College and Spartanburg Methodist College. She also chaired the Spartanburg County Democratic Party.
A visitation service will be 5 pm Saturday at Floyd’s Greenlawn Chapel in Spartanburg. Patterson’s funeral will be 3 pm Sunday at Central United Methodist Church in the city.