WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) issued the following statement on the passing of former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, a longtime public leader who served Delaware in elected office from 1975 to 2009.

"Governor Ruth Ann Minner worked tirelessly for decades to make Delaware a better place for all of us. From championing anti-smoking laws to starting the SEED scholarship program, her significant accomplishments continue to benefit our state today.

"From her early days in the General Assembly to her election as our only female governor, Ruth Ann doggedly climbed the proverbial ladder, paving the way for every woman to be elected to public office in Delaware.

"Annie and I fondly remember attending her annual picnics at her home down in Milford, where nothing would light up her face more than talking about her family, particularly her grandchildren. She was a devoted matriarch to not just her own family but to our entire state. Ruth Ann Minner was tough as nails, kept her word, and cared deeply about the people of Delaware. She will be sorely missed."