Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Former State Senator Dead At Age 86

Channel 5 News CROSSVILLE, Tenn. - Former Tennessee State Senator Annabelle Clement O'Brien died Monday night after complications from a fall two weeks ago. She was 86 years old. O'Brien was the sister of former Governor Frank G. Clement, who served from 1953 to 1959 and 1963 to 1967. She was her brother's chief of staff during his second term. Her husband was the late Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles O'Brien. The two married in 1966 when he was serving as a State Senator. According to a media release, O'Brien had been receiving treatment from her fall at the UT Medical Center in Knoxville when she died. O'Brien served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1975 to 1977, and later as a State Senator from 1977 to 1991. She made an unsuccessful run for Governor in 1982, but failed to win the primary election. She also served in two gubernatorial cabinets, and was the first woman to chair committees in the Tennessee Senate. Known as the First Lady of Tennessee Politics, O'Brien pushed for healthcare reform on several occasions. She has been credited with a law requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of mammograms and giving patients the right to a "living will." O'Brien was awarded the Clement Museum Humanitarian Leadership Award in April 2009 for her lifetime achievements. Governor Phil Bredesen and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander were on hand for the tribute. Her nephew is former U.S. Congressman Bob Clement. He said O'Brien was determined to open a museum in Dickson to mark the birthplace of her brother. She attended the grand opening of the Governor Frank G. Clement Railroad Hotel Museum just two months before her death.

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