Vera Buchanan
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Vera Buchanan
Vera Daerr Buchanan
Vera Buchanan.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 30th district

January 3, 1953 - November 26, 1955
Robert J. Corbett
Elmer J. Holland
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 33rd district

July 24, 1951 - January 3, 1953
Frank Buchanan
District eliminated
Personal details
Born(1902-07-20)July 20, 1902
Wilson, Pennsylvania
DiedNovember 26, 1955(1955-11-26) (aged 53)
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Frank Buchanan

Vera Daerr Buchanan (July 20, 1902 – November 26, 1955) was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.[1] She was the first female member of the U.S. Congress to ever die while holding office, and she and her husband, who had also died in office, were the first congressional wife and husband to both die while still in office.[2]


Born in Wilson, Pennsylvania (later part of Clairton) on July 20, 1902, Vera Daerr was a daughter of John Daerr and Jennie Leasure Daerr. A student of the public and parochial schools in Duquesne, Pennsylvania during her formative years, she graduated from high school there, and went on to secure employment as a secretary for that community's steel mill. After marrying automobile dealer and teacher Frank Buchanan in 1929, she and her husband raised twin daughters. [3]

In 1942, she helped her husband win the mayoral election in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. According to historians at the U.S. House of Representatives, As McKeesport's first lady, Vera Daerr Buchanan then initiated "a listening campaign to familiarize herself with the needs of constituents and began cultivating a support base for future election campaigns." Four years later, her husband won the May 1946 special election, filling a vacancy left in the 79th Congress (1945-1947) Representative Samuel Weis's resignation. Serving as her husband's secretary during his five-year tenure, she was then tabbed to fill his seat after her husband died suddenly on April 27, 1951. Running as a Democrat and garnering roughly 62 percent of the vote to defeat Clifford W. Flegal in the July 24, 1951 special election, Buchanan won and was subsequently sworn in to the 82nd United States Congress on August 1 by Sam Rayburn. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Reelected to the 83rd and 84th United States Congresses, she served until her death in McKeesport at the age of 53.[4]

During her tenure, she served on the House Banking and Currency, Merchant Marine and Fisheries, and Public Works committees, but resigned from the Merchant Marine Committee in 1952 in order to devote more energy to the other two committee roles. She was supported in her efforts by her daughter Jane Buchanan, who served as her secretary.[5]

Safe, affordable housing and affordable groceries for working people became two of her priorities, as did flood protection initiatives for her district. During one speech on the floor of the U.S. House, she pressed her colleagues to understand that American families "hould have a chance to live in decent housing," adding that safe, stable housing "is one of the most important factors in a child's environment."[6]

Illness, death and interment

During her third and final term in Congress, Buchanan was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Initially committed to working from her hospital bed at the Bethesda Naval Hospital when she received the diagnosis in June 1955, she continued to do so until she was forced by her failing health to move closer to home. Hospitalized for the final three months of her life at the McKeesport Hospital, she continued working for much of that time until she finally passed away on November 26, 1955. The first female member of Congress ever to die while still serving,[7] she was buried at the Mount Vernon Cemetery in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.[8][9]

See also


  • United States Congress. "Vera Buchanan (id: B001009)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • The Political Graveyard


  1. ^ "Buchanan, Vera Daerr," in "History, Art & Archives." Washington, D.C.: U.S. House of Representatives, retrieved online February 23, 2019.
  2. ^ Mariotti, Renato (2013-11-26). "Rep. Vera Buchanan dies in office, Nov. 26, 1955". Politico. Retrieved .
  3. ^ "Buchanan, Vera Daerr," in "History, Art & Archives," U.S. House of Representatives.
  4. ^ "Buchanan, Vera Daerr," in "History, Art & Archives," U.S. House of Representatives.
  5. ^ "Buchanan, Vera Daerr," in "History, Art & Archives," U.S. House of Representatives.
  6. ^ "Buchanan, Vera Daerr," in "History, Art & Archives," U.S. House of Representatives.
  7. ^ "Buchanan, Vera Daerr," in "History, Art & Archives," U.S. House of Representatives.
  8. ^ "Vera Buchanan, Lawmaker, Dies." New York, New York: The New York Times, November 27, 1955, p. 88.
  9. ^ "Mrs. Buchanan Dead; In Congress 4 Years." Washington, D.C.: Washington Post, November 27, 1955, p. A16.

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