WASHINGTON (AP) -- Longtime D.C. Council member Hilda H.M. Mason has died at the age of 91.
The former teacher and veteran of the civil rights movement died Sunday morning at Washington Hospital Center. Mason had suffered from Alzheimer's, her daughter Carolyn Nicholas said.
Mason, who served on the council from 1977 to 1998, was a champion of statehood for the District of Columbia and a legend in city politics.
"Our city has lost a true legend today," Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said in a statement. "From the earliest days of home rule to the present, as an elected official and a private citizen, Hilda Mason was a force behind the voting rights movement and the education of thousands of young people."
Mason was elected to the Board of Education in 1971 and served from 1972 to 1977, when she was appointed to the DC Council to fill the unexpired term of Julius Hobson Sr. Later that year, she defeated nine other candidates to win an at-large seat in her own right. She easily won re-election four times.
Calls for Mason to retire began before the 1990 election, but Mason defeated former Mayor Marion Barry who tried to win an at-large seat after serving a prison sentence for a drug conviction.
But Mason's behavior grew more erratic and calls for her retirement persisted. She lost her final bid for re-election in 1998, at age 82.
Mason is to be buried Sunday in her hometown of Lynch Station, Va.