Tauscher, who was battling pneumonia as a complication from esophageal cancer surgery years ago, died at a hospital while surrounded by family members.
"While we knew her as the defining force in our family -- either as the mother who fought to make sure Katherine would be able to live a full life after being born premature or as the oldest sister who broke barriers and forged new paths that all of us would later follow -- the public knew her for the history she made throughout her life," Tauscher's family said Tuesday morning.
The family's statement noted her long list of achievements, including being the youngest and one of the first women to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, and founding the first national research service to help parents verify the background of child care workers.
"You can see Ellen's legacy in the lives made just that much better, that much safer, that much more secure in the East Bay, in California, in America, and across the world," the family's statement said.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), a longtime friend of Tauscher's, was among the elected leaders to issue a statement Tuesday mourning the loss of her former congressional colleague.
"Ellen was brilliant, gracious and generous and always did her level best to lift up those around her," Feinstein said. "Ellen was a best friend and I'll never forget her."
Tauscher chaired Feinstein's first two Senate campaigns before going on to win her own East Bay seat in Congress.
"She remains an inspiration for all of us in Congress, and I hope younger members will look to her as an example to emulate," Feinstein added.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Tauscher earned a bachelor's degree from Seton Hall University and went on to work as an investment banker. She would also hold positions on the New York Stock Exchange and American Stock Exchange during her investment career.
After moving to California in the late-1980s, Tauscher founded the ChildCare Registry, a first-of-its-kind national background search service focusing on child care workers.
Helping Feinstein win election to the Senate in 1992 and 1994, Tauscher then turned her attention to her own political career and successfully unseated Republican incumbent Bill Baker in the 10th Congressional District in 1996. She won re-election six more times.
In 2009, Tauscher stepped down from Congress to become a leader in the U.S. State Department, as under secretary of state for arms control and international security, a position she held for nearly three years.
Tauscher, who retired from the State Department in 2012, held various roles in private and public sectors in the ensuing years. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her to the University of California Board of Regents in 2017, and she was also serving on the Board of Governors for Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC -- both positions she held until her death.
"Ellen Tauscher was a force: a force who passionately served her constituents, a force for good in the world as one of America's top diplomats, and always a force of loyalty for any friend who counted on her. We will miss her dearly," said presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), who interned for Tauscher as a college student in 2001.
"I would not be where I am, or who I am, if not for Ellen Tauscher," Swalwell added in a statement. "She broke the mold again and again ... In all these things and more, Ellen Tauscher was a bold and selfless champion who strove at every turn to make our world a better, safer, healthier place."
The Tri-Valley's other congressman, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), also reflected on the death of his friend and fellow Contra Costa County leader.
"Ellen was a public servant, fierce advocate, and glass ceiling breaker," DeSaulnier said in a statement. "Ellen lived a life in service to others. I am honored to have called her a friend. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones in Contra Costa and across the nation."
Details on memorial services will be forthcoming, according to Tauscher's family.
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