Kang Keqing, 81, one of the few women who joined the Communists' Long March to escape their foes in 1934. Kang, the widow of Communist military commander Chu Teh, served as president of the All-China Women's Federation. She also was a member of the Communist Party's powerful Central Committee and the Legislature's Standing Committee. Born to a peasant family that was too poor to raise her, Kang was given away as a future child bride when she was 6 weeks old. As a teen-ager, Kang ran away and joined the Communist guerrillas, who were fighting Nationalist forces led by Chiang Kai-shek. A year later, she married Chu, then in his 40s and commander of the Communist forces. Shortly before the Long March, Kang earned the nickname "the girl commander" when she assumed command of a Communist battalion of 800 men after their leader was killed by Nationalists. She was one of 35 women on the yearlong 6,000-mile march. In Beijing on April 22.