ARMSTRONG, Texas, July 31 (UPI) -- Anne Armstrong, a political pioneer who advised two U.S. presidents and became a leader on the national Republican scene, died Wednesday. She was 80.
Armstrong, described by a long-time friend as "an epic Texan," died at her home in Armstrong, Texas, of complications from melanoma, her son, J. Barclay Armstrong said.
She was a prominent figure in Texas and national Republican Party politics when she was appointed counselor to President Richard M. Nixon in 1973.
First woman to be named to the cabinet-level position, she had to face hostile audiences as the Watergate scandal unfolded, reported the New York Times, who at the time characterized her as the Nixon administration's "best, brave front to the public."
Under Nixon, she created the White House Office Of Women's Programs to recruit women for high level government positions. She stayed on with President Gerald Ford as counselor and was mentioned as a possible running mate. Instead, she became the first woman appointed ambassador to Great Britain.
Armstrong was a keynote speaker at the 1972 Republican convention, the first woman in either party to deliver a keynote address.
Born Anne Legendre in New Orleans on Dec. 27, 1927, her father, Armant Legendre, was a coffee importer from a Creole family.
She graduated in 1949 from Vassar College, where she was member of Phi Beta Kappa and got her first taste of political activism as a volunteer worker for Democrat Harry S. Truman's 1948 presidential campaign.
In 1950, after working briefly as an assistant editor at Harper's Bazaar, she married Tobin Armstrong, a Texas cattle rancher. Armstrong died in 2005.
In addition to her son, she is survived by four other children, two daughters and two sons, 13 grandchildren and a sister.