CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Phyllis Rutledge is being remembered as a political force in the West Virginia Legislature, a former state House of Delegates member, and the first woman elected as circuit clerk for Kanawha County. She died on Friday at 83.

Bobbie Hatfield, also a former delegate, said Rutledge was “a woman before her time.”

Rutledge was a Democrat who represented Kanawha County in the House from 1968 to 1974 then from 1988 to 1994. She was the first female circuit clerk in the county serving from 1972-1984. She was also the first woman to fill in as House Speaker Pro Tempore when the speaker was absent in 1992 during the 71st Legislature.

“She knew what she wanted. She was very strong and would fight to the very end, not only on women’s issues, but a lot of social issues that she really believed in,” said Hatfield.

Hatfield said Rutledge drafted many bills she really cared about. She was passionate about political issues and always believed women should be involved.

“She brought her side and her experiences in life to the Legislature. In that way, I think that she really helped in the drafting of some bills,” she said.

She was also the House Banking Committee Chairwoman, a lobbyist, and the Kanawha County coordinator for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

When MetroNews asked Hatfield to describe Rutledge in one word, she said she was a “leader.”

“She was very outgoing. I was young at the time and she was just kind of a mentor to me.”

Rutledge is survived by two children, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Monday at Wilson Funeral Home in Charleston.

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