PAM GAIA, LONGTIME LEGISLATOR
Pam Gaia, a former state representative from District 89 (Midtown Memphis) and a pioneer in reform legislation, died Tuesday at the Memphis home of her brother Rick Gaia.
In recent years, Gaia had experienced several bouts of ill health. At the time of her death she was suffering from a recurrence of cancer but had reportedly dined at Pete & Sams, a favorite restaurant, as recently as Monday night
Gaia, who was known for her independence and for legislation enacting improved standards at nursing homes and for a bill to facilitate consumer access to generic drugs, served several terms in the legislature until she vacated her seat in 1990 to seek the Democratic nomination for the 9th District congressional seat then held by Harold Ford Sr.
Switching parties in 1994, Gaia made an unsuccessful race as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Carol Chumney, winner of the 1990 election to succeed Gaia.
State Senator Steve Cohen, who was serving in the legislature when Gaia did and worked with her on various legislation, called her a fighter for the people.
After leaving electoral office, Gaia had held a number of positions in local county government. She maintained her interest in nursing home reform and was a frequent speaker and letter-writer on that subject.
Canale Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.