OLYMPIA, Wash. — Former Washington state first lady Lois Spellman died Thursday, just nine days after her husband, former Gov. John Spellman. She was 90.

“Our state is better for the life and work of this gracious, loving and kind woman,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a written statement.

Lois Spellman had been married to her husband for 63 years — and had been with him for nearly 70, after meeting him in a Spanish class at Seattle University — when he died Jan. 16. John Spellman was Washington’s last Republican governor, having served a single term after being elected in 1980.

In an emailed statement, her family said she died peacefully after a life of service to her family and community, including her efforts to promote volunteerism, food banks and Northwest artists.

“Lois was a formidable woman who had an extraordinary influence over her children and an outsized impact on many of the people that she met as teammate to our father during his early days in law, decades of public service for the County and State, and in the many years following,” her family said. “She was first and foremost a mother and defender of the family, and at heart she was a private person. But when thrust into a public role she performed in a way that made us proud.”

Inslee described her as “John’s trusted advisor throughout his career, and a strong protector of everyone around her ? from members of her family to state employees.”

The Spellmans are survived by six children and six grandchildren.

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