PORTLAND, Ore. — Former Oregon secretary of state Norma Paulus died Thursday at the age of 85.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Paulus died after spending time in hospice for health problems related to dementia.

Paulus, a Republican, was a member of the Legislature, Oregon's secretary of state from 1977 to 1985, her party's nominee for governor in 1986 and the state's elected superintendent of schools for two terms in the 1990s.

A fiscal conservative, Paulus was a feminist and environmentalist who crafted bipartisan legislation with Democratic women in the House in the 1970s and championed the auditor's role in the secretary of state's office.

“Norma Jean Paulus might have been born in Nebraska, but she was a true Oregon pioneer in every sense of the word,” said Senate President Peter Courtney. “She blazed trails for women here. She was a founding member of the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus and helped push the Equal Rights Amendment in Oregon.”

Paulus’ death came two days after Secretary of State Dennis Richardson died following a battle with cancer

Former Oregon Governor and former Secretary of State Barbara Roberts told KGW:

“It's a loss of a real hero to women leaders in the state,” explained Roberts. “As other women came along and held statewide office, myself included, we really sort of stood on the shoulders of the woman who made that first step.”