MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Nancy Worley, who began her career as a teacher in Decatur and rose to become the head of the Alabama Democratic Party, has died. She was 70.

Mark Worley, a distant cousin of Worley’s, confirmed that she had died Wednesday morning after having spent several weeks at Baptist South in Montgomery, where she had been on life support.

“I was very proud to know Nancy, and I have to say she was a very strong person and she fought very hard till the end. She just couldn’t overcome the things that were stacked against her, but she did her very best no doubt,” Mark told CBS 42. “She will be missed by many and we all appreciate the political role she played in the state of Alabama.”

Alabama’s Secretary of State Nancy Worley, left, and Rep. Ken Guin, D-Carbonhill, right, talk, Wednesday, April 27, 2005, in Montgomery, Ala., on the House floor at the Statehouse. (AP Photo/Kevin Glackmeyer)

Prior to her stint as head of the ADP, Worley had been involved in Alabama politics for many years. From 2003 to 2007, Worley served as Alabama Secretary of State under Gov. Bob Riley. She also served as president of the Alabama Education Association from 1983 to 1984 and then from 1995 to 1997.

Joe Reed, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, told CBS 42 Wednesday that Worley will be remembered as a courageous person.

“She was a true champion for equality, justice, and fairness,” Reed said. “She believed in her convictions, and she pronounced them for everyone to understand.”

Reed said he last spoke to Worley a couple of days before she was hospitalized.

“We talked about the Democratic Party’s future and talked about the importance of rebuilding the Democratic Party,” he said.

In this Wednesday, July 11, 2007 file photo, former Alabama Secretary of State Nancy Worley enters the Montgomery County Courthouse for her trial on charges of violating election laws, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)

Don Siegelman, the last Democrat to serve as Alabama’s governor, also commented on Worley’s legacy in the state.

“Nancy Worley was a very sweet and kind lady, in addition to being a loyal Democrat,” he said. “I think her legacy will be her kindness and generosity to other people.”

Worley was the chair of the Alabama Democratic Party from 2013 to 2019, when she was voted out during a contentious dispute involving the Democratic National Committee and some members of the state party. Rep. Chris England was later elected as the new chair of the party, resulting in Worley and others filing a lawsuit contending the results. The case was dismissed last year.

“Nancy Worley stood strong in her beliefs and was always working for a better Alabama,” said Jim Spearman, who served as the party’s executive director from 2005 to 2011. “Whether it was in her beloved field of education, Democratic Party politics, or when she served as Alabama’s Secretary of State, you knew where Nancy stood and how she would fight for her vision of Alabama.”

Rep. England, current Chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, also released a statement on Worley’s death.

“We are saddened to learn of Ms. Worley’s passing,” he said. “Ms. Worley was a great and loyal Alabama Democrat who cared deeply about the Alabama Democratic Party and the people of this state… Nancy Worley was a true public servant and a great Democrat with a heart for the people. She will be sorely missed, and we offer our condolences to her friends and family.”

Originally from New Hope, Worley received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Montevallo in 1973 and later received her master’s degree from Jacksonville State University in 1975. She was a teacher in the Decatur School System for 25 years, where she was twice named Alabama Teacher of the Year.

Below is a letter released by Reed regarding Worley’s death.