Iowa’s first woman lieutenant governor dies at 82

Jo Ann Zimmerman, Iowas first woman lieutenant governor, died at the age of 82 Tuesday.

Courtesy of the Iowa Department of Human Rights

Jo Ann Zimmerman, Iowa’s first woman lieutenant governor, died at the age of 82 Tuesday.

Jake Webster

Jo Ann Zimmerman, the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Iowa, died late Tuesday at the age of 82.

Elected prior to reforms in Iowa to elect the governor and lieutenant governor on the same ticket, Zimmerman, a Democrat, served alongside Republican Gov. Terry Branstad in his first stint as governor.

Prior to serving as lieutenant governor, Zimmerman was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1982.

Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff around the state Thursday and Friday in honor of Zimmerman and issued a statement Wednesday following Zimmerman’s death.

“Jo Ann blazed a trail for others to follow,” Reynolds said in a statement. “As a nurse, school board member, legislator and lt. governor, she led with a caring heart and with a true passion for public service. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and loved ones.”

The current lieutenant governor of Iowa, Adam Gregg, said in a tweet he is “saddened” to hear of the death of Zimmerman.

“Lt. Gov. Zimmerman’s life will be remembered for the example of public service she leaves for all Iowans,” Gregg said in his tweet.

The Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price also released a statement eulogizing Zimmerman on Wednesday.

“Jo Ann Zimmerman will rightfully be remembered as a historic Iowa leader,” Price said in the statement. “As the first woman to hold the office of lieutenant governor at a time when the job was elected [independently] of the governor, she led the way for women and girls in every corner of the state, showing that they, too, can hold high office in this state.”

After losing re-election in 1990, Zimmerman created the Democratic Activist Women’s Network to help elect other women to political offices throughout Iowa.

Rep. Marti Anderson, D-Des Moines, said in a Facebook post Zimmerman “never gave up on her dream” for women’s equality.

“[S]he did amazing things to make that dream true,” Anderson said in the post. “I will miss her dearly.”