U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a trailblazer elected to the Senate in 1992 who broke gender barriers throughout a long career in local and national politics, died on Thursday September 28, 2023. She was 90.
Opening the Senate floor on Friday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that “we lost a giant in the Senate.”
“I had the privilege of meeting and photographing Senator Feinstein on several occasions,” said local photojournalist, Henk Friezer. “I found her to be a very nice and easy to work with – in some respects she was even timid. Nothing of the stature of a powerful national political figure she portrayed.”
Feinstein was the longest-serving female senator in U.S. history. A pivitol figure from the beginning of her career in San Francisco, she was elected the city’s first female mayor after the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk in 1978.
“As the nation mourns this tremendous loss, we know how many lives she impacted and how many glass ceilings she shattered along the way,” Schumer said.
President Joe Biden, who served with Feinstein for decades in the Senate, called her “a pioneering American,” a “true trailblazer” and a “cherished friend.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will be appointing a temporary replacement.
Feinstein was the oldest sitting U.S. senator and was known as a passionate advocate for liberal priorities important to her state such as reproductive rights, gun control, and environmental protections. Collegues say she was a pragmatic lawmaker who reached out to Republicans and sought middle ground.
On Friday, her Senate desk was draped in black and topped with a vase of white roses.
The Senator’s remains returned to the Bay Area Saturday night, and was transported to the Sinai Memorial Chapel in San Francisco. Her spokesperson says, Feinstein’s remains are accompanied by her daughter, Katherine Feinstein, as well as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and the senator’s chief-of-staff.