(AP) _ Tributes and testimonials to former Texas Governor Ann Richards, who died Wednesday night at her Austin home after
a battle with esophageal cancer:
"Tonight, we lost a true Texas hero in Ann Richards. Ann knew the real meaning of public service, and her dedication to empowering others was evident throughout her entire political career. Ann was a trailblazer and a real treasure, and I know people of all political persuasions are saddened by her passing."
_ Boyd Richie, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.
"As a woman and minority, she made me feel that I could walk through the halls of the Texas Capitol and feel like I belonged there. That will always be with me. As one of the women on her staff, it was so reaffirming to work for a woman who was so comfortable with her power she was willing and able to share it and
encourage other women to embrace it." _ Roxanne Evans, who worked for Richards as a deputy press secretary from 1994 to 1995.
"She shattered the glass ceiling for women and for women over 50 years old that have been through a divorce. She said you just
don't have to sit on the sidelines and slide into obscurity."
_Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.
"She was an endearing and enduring figure in Texas politics. She paved the way as a leader and a role model for women who aspire to the highest levels of leadership. Anita and I are saddened by a loss that will be felt by many. Ann Richards left Texas a better
_ Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
"She was just such a breath of fresh air to Texas politics and made such a difference for so many people. She was blunt, outspoken, incredibly smart and had a huge heart. They don't make them like that anymore."
_ U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio.
"She set the table so somebody like me could become mayor of Dallas. I think her loss is going to be felt deeply because she connected with people on such a personal basis, but hopefully her life, her battles will be an inspiration for what we all can do in
_ Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.
"With a sense of humor and a love of Texas, Ann Richards led our state through a time of economic growth, prosperity and opportunity for all. She gave Texas a lot, but perhaps her greatest gift was to help us all laugh at ourselves."
_ U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco.
"When I heard she had cancer, Ann had beat so many other odds... that I just thought she would beat cancer too."
_ Former Laredo Mayor Betty Flores.
"She was just a one of a kind person. She was funny and fun and I was always impressed that she loved life."
_ U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who succeeded Richards as state treasurer and held the office during her administration.
"She was a pioneer for women in Texas and around the world. ...All Texans will miss her presence, her compassion, her humor and her love of this state."