Former First Lady of Tennessee Passes Away

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Betty Blanton, wife of former Governor Ray Blanton, died today at Alive Hospice in Nashville. She was 77.

Mrs. Blanton, who had recently worked as a state employee, had been at the facility about two months.

Her husband died in 1996. He had been a three-term Democratic congressman from West Tennessee, and was governor from 1975 to 1979.

In 1981, he was convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy and extortion for selling liquor licenses. He served 22 months in federal prison.

His term as governor was cut short by three days when state officials inaugurated Lamar Alexander earlier than scheduled out of fear Blanton was pardoning state prisoners without cause.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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