Widow of SC Gov. Carroll Campbell dies at age 77

GREENVILLE, SC - FEBRUARY 19: Jeb Bush's wife Columba Bush, former first lady Mrs. Barbara Bush, and Iris Campbell applaud for Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush during a campaign event February 19, 2016 in Greenville, South Carolina. The South Carolina Republican primary will be held Saturday, February 20. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The widow of a popular South Carolina governor credited with helping make the Republican Party a powerful force in the state has died.

Family spokesman Bob McAlister tells The Associated Press that Iris Campbell died overnight Monday at her home in Debordieu in Georgetown County after a brief illness. She was 77.

As South Carolina’s first lady, Iris Campbell said she hoped people would remember her for her work to help children.

McAlister said Campbell’s family will announce funeral arrangements later. She leaves behind two sons, Carroll and Mike Campbell.

Gov. Carroll Campbell died in 2005 after battling Alzheimer’s disease. He was governor from 1987 until 1995.

Governor Henry McMaster released the following statement after the passing of former First Lady Iris Campbell.

Peggy and I are heartbroken to hear of the passing of Iris Campbell. We loved her. We were blessed to have called her and her late husband friends, and will miss her dearly. This loss leaves us saddened, but also grateful to know that she is reunited with Carroll and that they are both resting well with their Lord and Savior.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) issued this statement:

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of the former First Lady of South Carolina, Iris Campbell.  She was an indispensable partner to Governor Campbell.  She represented our state with class and dignity.  Iris will be missed by her wonderful family and many friends.