HELENA, Mont. - The state's first and only female to serve as governor, Judy Martz, has died at the age of 74 in Butte Monday.
NBC Montana previously reported doctors diagnosed Martz with pancreatic cancer in 2014.
State political leaders, including Gov. Steve Bullock, are expressing sympathy and honoring Martz as a trailblazer for women in Montana. Martz, a Republican, served as governor from 2001 to 2005. She was noted for turning a state deficit into a surplus while reducing taxes and increasing funding for education.
However, her term was besieged by missteps. Her popularity dropped to 20 percent at its low point.
She was a businesswoman and Olympic speedskater who entered politics in 1996 as Gov. Marc Racicot's running mate. She ran for governor after Racicot was barred from seeking a third term.
U.S. Senator Steve Daines today released the following statement on the passing of the 22nd Governor of Montana, Judy Martz.
"Governor Martz was a woman of grit and faith who fearlessly blazed new trails from the Olympics to the Governor's Mansion. Judy was rarely seen without a pin of the humble turtle on her lapel and would often invoke a saying that embodied her fearlessness and courage 'Behold the turtle, he only moves forward when his neck's stuck out'. Cindy and I wish her and her family prayers during this time."
Governor Steve Bullock issued the following statement honoring the life and legacy of former Montana Governor Judy Martz, the 22nd Governor of Montana and the first and only woman to hold the office of the Governor.
"Lisa and I join Montanans in honoring the life and legacy of Governor Judy Martz, Montana's first female governor," said Governor Bullock. "While she will always leave her mark in our history as a trailblazer for women, we will also remember the spirited enthusiasm she brought both in her service to Montanans and through her lifelong love for our state."
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox released the following statement on the passing of Montana's first female governor, Judy Martz:
"Today, Montana lost a dedicated public servant, a valuable stateswomen, and an all-around good person. As a former Olympian, successful business woman, and Montana's first female governor, Judy Martz achieved many great accomplishments throughout her life. Governor Martz was a longtime friend, and will be missed by many. My heart goes out to her family during this time."