CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Helen Holt, the first woman in West Virginia to hold a statewide elected office, died of heart failure Sunday at age 101, according to a news release from Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office.
Holt served West Virginia as its 19th secretary of state, from 1957 to 1959.
Tennant said she met Holt in 2009 and the two remained close.
“Though she would never admit it, she was a political trailblazer for her time,” Tennant said in the release. “She put the needs of her state and her fellow citizens above her own personal needs and her own personal grief. She never considered herself a pioneer, though. She always told me she was, ‘just there to do a good job.’ I would argue with anyone who said she didn’t.”
Holt would sometimes call Tennant’s office with suggestions, support and a different perspective, the release said.
“She grounded us in tradition and gave us an appreciation of our past,” Tennant said. “I am a better leader because of her influence.”