Carrie Hamburg

Carrie Hamburg and her husband used to slow dance in the kitchen of their Ukiah home on weekday mornings, with no music playing, greatly embarrassing — and inspiring — their four children.

"I've never seen two people more in love in my life," said Laura Hamburg, the couple's oldest child.

Carrie Hamburg, formerly an unwed single mother in New York City's impoverished Hells Kitchen, became a congressman's wife, a musician and a political activist in her own right.

Hamburg, 66, died of cancer at her Ukiah home on March 5. A public memorial will be held later this spring.

Dan Hamburg, a Mendocino County supervisor who served a single term as North Coast congressman in the early 1990s, was his wife's caregiver during her final days.

"She approached her death with sadness," he said, "but also with acceptance and even excitement. In a sense, she has been preparing for this her whole life."

Carrie Hamburg shunned the spotlight, but had a keen sense of politics, her husband said, acknowledging that she edited — and improved — everything he wrote.

"People don't realize how political she was," Hamburg said. "She was always ready to challenge convention, and she was always pushing me forward."

The Hamburgs were arrested together in Ohio in 2004 while protesting alleged voter fraud by the George W. Bush campaign, and spent 111 days at a tribal protest of a proposed radioactive nuclear waste dump in Ward Valley in 1998.

Carrie Hamburg hobnobbed with celebrities, including Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, during her husband's congressional term.

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