BODE, MARY JANE (1928 ~ 1998). Former Austin legislator Mary Jane Bode, who wrote about people who made laws and then took a stab at it herself, died in 1998 in Illinois after a protracted battle with cancer.
To her last day, Bode who served in the Texas House from 1977 through 1980 remained eager to voice her views on the passing political scene.
"My last conversation with her was about her indignity at the Clinton (investigation)," said daughter Georgianna Harms of Barrington, Ill. "She felt it was not being executed in a just way. Not that she thought he was a peach."
Bode, 71, lived in San Antonio and traveled to Illinois in July for a grandson's first birthday. During that visit, Bode became ill and began treatment, Harms said. Bode died in Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, a Chicago suburb.
Bode's first stint in journalism was from 1956 through 1973, including several years at the American-Statesman and 10 years as a Capitol correspondent for Long News Service. In 1968, she ran unsuccessfully for a House seat representing Austin.
After several years as press secretary to then Attorney General John Hill, Bode was back on the ballot in a 1977 special election to replace Austin State Representative Sarah Weddington, who resigned to work in the Carter White House. This time, Bode won.
"I call myself a liberal," she said in announcing her candidacy as a Democrat, "but my liberal friends call me a moderate. So I guess I'm a liberal moderate."
In 1978, she won a full term. But in 1980, as her district changed and Ronald Reagan led a GOP wave, Bode lost to Republican Terral Smith.
"She was a kind woman, and she loved the Texas Legislature and the legislative process," said Smith, now an aide to Governor George W. Bush.
After leaving office, Bode returned to newspapers, working in Corpus Christi, Del Rio and San Antonio.
Hill, now practicing law in Houston, said Wednesday that he was saddened by word of Bode's death.
"She was a strong force in the attorney general's office while we were there," he said. "She had high credibility with the press, which was a valuable asset to all of us. But most of all she was just a very warm and loving person that was fun to be around. I will miss her."
Longtime Austin journalist Winston Bode remembered his ex-wife as a "hard-nosed reporter."
"She had a great mind that went in many directions," he said.
In addition to her daughter in Illinois, Bode is survived by son Todd Bode of Austin, daughter Vera Carmignani of San Marcos and five grandchildren.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Austin American Statesman, September 24, 1998.