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Ruth Ann Minner (1935–2021), first woman governor of Delaware

by Linnea Crowther

Ruth Ann Minner was the first, and to date only, woman elected governor of Delaware, serving from 2001 to 2009.

Political career

Minner was widowed at 32 and raised her children as a single mother, earning her GED and attending college while working two jobs. A Democrat, she was elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in 1975 and served there until her elected to the Delaware Senate in 1983. She sponsored the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Act while in the Senate. In 1993, Minner was elected lieutenant governor of Delaware, alongside Governor Tom Carper. They served two terms before her 2001 election as governor. Among the new laws she signed was the 2002 Clean Indoor Air Act, banning smoking in restaurants and bars, and a 2005 bill that made Delaware the first state to offer two years of college tuition to recent high school graduates. Minner was elected to two terms as governor before her retirement in 2009.

Minner’s advice for young women

“Don’t tell me who is holding you back. There is only one person who can hold you back and that’s you. If you’re willing to work and put in the time and the energy, you can accomplish anything you want to and there’s nobody out there to stop you.” —from a 2020 interview for the podcast Whip Count

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Tributes to Ruth Ann Minner

Full obituary: Delaware Online

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