HELENA – Dorothy Eck, a longtime Montana political figure, passed away on Saturday in Bozeman.
Eck served as a Montana Senator for Montana for 20 years before retiring in 2000. She was known for her support of women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, public education and the environment.
Before her tenure as a Senator, she served as a delegate and officer of the Montana Constitutional Convention and the head of the League of Women Voters.
Both Governor Steve Bullock and Montana’s U.S Senator Jon Tester called her a “trailblazer”. Bullock saying, “We have Dorothy largely to thank for our state constitution, the minimum wage, the right to privacy, and the rights of citizens to participate in our democracy…She will be deeply missed.”
Tester and the Montana Democratic Party also both attributed her largely to Montana’s constitution. Tester said she, “Left her mark on the pages of Montana’s Constitution.”
The Democratic Party noted her part in the draft language for state’s constitution, saying she acknowledged, “The unique cultural heritage of American Indians and requiring the educational preservation of their heritage.”
Almost three decades later, the requirement of Article X, Sec. 1 (2) was achieved by the passage of the “Indian Education for All” act.
The state’s Democratic Party added, that Eck’s, “Intellect and actions had a profound and lasting impact on the political history of Montana.”
Tester was quoted saying she, “truly was a pioneer.”
The Executive Director for the Montana Democrat Party, Nancy Keenan, in a statement, said, “Dorothy Eck fought the good fight until the very end. She proudly embraced being labeled a liberal. We mourn Dorothy’s passing but celebrate the incalculable contribution she made to our Montana. Universally admired and respected, she led a substantive life lived to its fullest.”
Tester added that Dorothy was, “a champion for women, Native Americans, and a transparent and accountable government. Her fearless leadership will inspire all Montanans for generations to come.”
Eck first began her political career as the president and lobbyist for the Montana League of Women voters in the 1960s. She was then elected as a delegate to the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention.
The Party said she served as a mentor for the late Montana Senators Mignon Waterman and Sue Bartlett. They added that she convinced Dorothy Bradley to run for the Montana House of Representatives. When Bradley was elected in 1971, she was the only woman who served during that session.
Eck married Hugo Eck of Anaconda who became a professor of architecture at Montana State University.
She was 93.