Caption: Rep.Marge Roukema during a debate in 1998 in Tenafly,  Courtesy of

Caption: Rep.Marge Roukema during a debate in 1998 in Tenafly,
Courtesy of

By Blair DeLong, News Editor

Flags fly at half mast today as New Jersey mourns the loss of former Congresswoman Marge Roukema. Roukema, whom many considered a champion of family rights, died at the age of 86, leaving her legacy behind for those who loved her.

According to a spokesperson at the Christian Health Care Center in Wyckoff, Roukema died early Wednesday morning. While the cause of death has not been disclosed, it was confirmed that Roukema suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Republican Rep. Roukema  represented New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District from 1981 until 2003, when in 2002 she declined to run for office for another term. She had described herself through the years as a strong fiscal conservative by supporting a ban on unrestricted “soft money” but, on social issues, she considered herself a liberal Republican as she also supported abortion rights. Roukema was also one of the driving forces behind the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 that was signed into law by former President, Bill Clinton.

US Rep-elect Bonnie Watson Coleman of  New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, issued a statement saying, “We have lost a tremendous leader and state treasure today. Congresswoman Marge Roukema was as standard bearer for many in New Jersey and across the country… a former teacher. Rep. Roukema blazed a trail of common sense in a political climate oftentimes more concerned with partisan outcomes than with real results.”