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Former Utah lawmaker Roz McGee, who died this week at age 77, had one favorite honor among the many she received for years of community service.

It was the "Hell Raiser of the Year Award" from Utah Issues in 1991 for "leading the charge for children in Utah." It reflected both her fierce fighting for kids as a Democratic Salt Lake City legislator and as the first executive director of Voices for Utah Children for 13 years.

McGee, who served in the Legislature from 2003 to 2008, died Tuesday. A memorial service is planned Saturday in her native Chapel Hill, N.C., at 3 p.m. at the Carol Woods Retirement Community, where she and her husband, Zell McGee, lived in recent years.

"Roz McGee was a wonderful woman and a great representative, not only for Democrats, but for all citizens of Utah," said state Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon. "She was a fierce advocate for children and low-income families, and her years of dedicated service touched the lives of many."

Utah House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said he knew he had "big shoes to fill" when he succeeded her on Capitol Hill.

"Roz was a champion for children through her continued service," he said. "In the world of politics, elected officials come and go. Few are able to make the impression that Roz made on her community — and on me."

Former House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig served with McGee and said she was fortunate to have her as a mentor.

"She was extremely devoted to good public policy and that is regardless of which party it came out of. She was extremely thorough and very mindful of her own integrity and the integrity of the body," Seelig said. "She also had no fear of speaking truth to power."

Seelig recalls after flooding hit Washington County, the Legislature put together a relief package for the region and McGee questioned whether other areas would be eligible for future disaster relief or if the Republican majority was playing favorites with the area.

McGee was raised in Chapel Hill and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1959. She married Zell, a physician, in 1961 — and became an activist in the various communities where they lived.

In Nashville, Tenn., she was president of the League of Women Voters.

In Salt Lake City, she served on the national board of that league and on other panels, including for the National Association of Child Advocates, the Urban Libraries Council and Planned Parenthood of Utah.

She also helped to establish Voices for Utah Children and served from 1988 to 2001 as its first executive director.

She is survived by her husband, two daughters, a son and two granddaughters.

Lee Davidson, Robert Gehrke