Ruth Meiers, N.D. Lt. Governor Who Battled Cancer, Dies at 61
Ruth Meiers, whose sense of duty and battle with cancer as North Dakota’s first woman lieutenant governor won the admiration of opponents and supporters alike, has died at the age of 61.
Meiers struggled to continue her duties through the fall and winter, presiding over the state Senate despite the cancer that weakened her. She died Thursday evening at a Bismarck hospital.
Her illness was discovered Sept. 9 when she collapsed at her Capitol desk. Doctors discovered malignant tumors in her lung and brain and attributed the cancer to heavy smoking.
“It appears (women) are more susceptible to lung cancer than men,” Meiers said in an Oct. 22 television appearance. “I guess the message has to be loud and clear that they should not be smoking.”
She was elected lieutenant governor in 1984 after being drafted by the Democratic women’s caucus.