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Jewish Congresswoman Stricken by Massive Heart Attack Last November Will Not Return to Office

February 23, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Rep, Gladys Spellman (D. Md.), who was stricken by a massive heart attack four days before the elections last Nov. 4 and has been hospitalized since then in a semi-conscious state, will not return to Congress. House Speaker Thomas O’Neill (D. Mass.) announced last Friday that he would declare her seat vacant because of her illness, opening the way for what is expected to be a hard fought campaign by Democrats and Republicans to replace her.

Mrs. Spellman, 63, was overwhelmingly reelected to a fourth term despite her hospitalization. She was among the 33 Jews in the new Congress and one of two Jewish woman in the House of Representatives. The other is Bobbi Fiedler (R. Calif.) who was elected to her first term last November.

Mrs. Spellman’s husband, Reuben Spellman, announced that the would be a candidate for the seat held by his wife because “I want to carry on her work.” Spellman, 71, has been an employee of the Pentagon for 34 years. Mrs. Spellman represented a district in Prince George’s County in suburban Washington populated mainly by middle class and lower middle class families. A primary election will be held this spring to be followed by a special election for the vacant seat.

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