Former U.S. Sen. John V. Tunney, D-Calif., told The New York Times that his mother died Saturday at her home in Stamford, Conn., a few days after suffering a stroke.
Mary Josephine Lauder, nicknamed Polly in childhood, was born in Greenwich, Conn. Her grandfather, George Lauder, was a Scottish engineer who joined his cousin Andrew Carnegie at the Carnegie Steel Co. in Pittsburgh.
Her sister introduced Polly Lauder to Gene Tunney, the son of a Manhattan longshoreman, just before Tunney defeated Jack Dempsey in 1926 to become heavyweight champion. Their engagement was announced two years later after Tunney retired from the ring.
Tunney, although a high school dropout, was known as an intellectual boxer both in his fighting style and his taste for serious literature and friendships with well-known writers. He later became a successful businessman.
The Tunneys lived in a colonial farmhouse outside Stamford, where they raised sheep and cattle. Gene Tunney died in 1978.