Betty Anne McCaskill, the 84-year-old mother of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill who was once called her daughter’s secret weapon, died Monday, the senator’s campaign announced.
The one-time Kansas City resident suffered from a series of medical issues in recent years, but still appeared in a campaign ad for her daughter’s re-election to the U.S. Senate this summer.
“While we know she’s finally at peace, our family and her friends will all miss her so very much,” the senator said in a statement. “Her death creates a hole in my life that will never be filled.”
In 1971, Betty Anne McCaskill was the first woman elected to the Columbia City Council and had been active in Missouri Democratic politics — and encouraging women to run for public office — throughout her life. In 1978, she ran for a seat in the General Assembly against Leroy Blunt, the father of Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt. She lost.
In 2006, she was an active — and colorful — presence in her daughter’s Senate campaign. She came across as a modern-day incarnation of the straight-talking Harry Truman.
“I’m the dog, and she’s the pony,” Betty Anne said that year pointing to her daughter.
Once during that campaign, Betty Anne McCaskill stopped in Westport where she criticized the coverage gap known as the “donut hole” in the Medicare prescription-drug program.
“It’s a flimflam game,” she said. “That’s just once instance where we were `rickeydooed.’”
“That means we were hornswoggled,” she said.
That year, Betty Anne admitted to a reporter that she may have been living vicariously through her daughter. “It may be true,” she said.
Todd Akin, McCaskill’s Republican opponent, and his wife issued a statement expressing their “deepest condolences.”
Betty Anne McCaskill was born in 1928 in La Crescenta, Calif., but moved to Missouri as a child where she lived in West Plains, Lebanon, Houston, Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
In Kansas City, she worked for Waddell and Reed as a financial consultant.
Since 2005, Betty Anne McCaskill lived with the senator and her husband in St. Louis.
“Mom never met a stranger and lived life with enthusiasm that none of us could match,” Claire McCaskill said in Monday’s statement. “We were incredibly lucky to have a mother like her, a woman of great intellect and strength who loved and nurtured, challenged and pushed, and was always there with wise counsel and great humor.”
A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis.