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Helen, We Really Knew Ye

Helen Chenoweth-Hage dies at 68 in Car Crash


Former U.S. Representative (we would have referred to her as "Congresswoman," but she never liked that term much, and preferred to be called "Congressman") Helen Chenoweth-Hage was, to say the least, unforgettable. The eminently quotable Helen was in a car wreck in Nevada Monday, and died instantly. The three-term representative, who was first elected to Congress in 1994, was 68. Reporters should mourn her passing; she gave them so much to write about. Whether she was laughing off the notion of endangered salmon because she could find a canned version in the supermarket, or referring to minorities as "the warm-climate community," or asserting that the United Nations was using "black helicopters" to enforce martial law, she kept many a headline writer busy during her three terms in Congress. Why only three? We doubt it was because she would have been upended so easily (despite well-funded Democratic efforts). Instead, she stuck to her campaign pledge (do you know many politicians today who do so with such determination?), and declined to run for re-election after three terms. She was the Sagebrush Rebel with the silky-smooth voice, the neo-beehive hairdo that somehow always looked sharp, and the ability to make crusty Idaho types melt with affection.

"She had a great love for this country and state, and her energy and passion on the issues will be missed," said Governor Jim Risch.

Police reports say Chenoweth-Hage was the died when the driver of the car she was in overcorrected after swerving on a Nevada highway.