RENO — Former Assemblywoman Vivian Freeman, who championed the causes of women and children, conservation and education, has died at the age of 86.
The longtime Reno Democrat successfully underwent kidney transplant surgery in 2011 and died Thursday at her home due to complications from a stroke she suffered on Nov. 20, family spokesman Andy Barbano said.
Freeman, who moved to Reno in 1960, represented northwest Reno in the Assembly from 1986 to 2002. During her tenure, she was chairwoman of both the Health and Human Services Committee and the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee.
The one-time registered nurse was instrumental in organizing the push for a ballot measure to place a woman’s right to choose an abortion in state law. Nevadans approved it overwhelmingly in 1990. She also co-founded the pregnancy center at Washoe Medical Center, now named Renown.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, who served with Freeman in the Legislature, said in a statement Friday that he was saddened to hear of her passing.
“Vivian was a friend, a fierce advocate for her constituents and was always fighting to protect natural resources and the environment,” Sandoval said. “I had great respect for her and she will be missed.”
Freeman was appointed to the Reno Commission on the Status of Women, served on the Washoe County Parks Foundation and was a member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and the Northern Nevada Black Cultural Awareness Society.
“Vivian was always a champion and fighter for all the causes from kids and women, to education, health care and the environment,” said Mylan Hawkins, a longtime friend and fellow activist.
Martha Gould, a legislative lobbyist and friend of Freeman’s for 40 years, said that more than anything she “just cared about people.”
“I think for anyone who wants to be active in public life, she was a model for understanding that accomplishing things was more important than the recognition of whatever she did,” Gould told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “She cared and she felt that hopefully she could help make a difference.”
Details of a memorial service will be announced at a later date.