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Obituaries

Claude Pompidou, 94; French leader's widow, modern art enthusiast

July 05, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Claude Pompidou, 94, the publicity-shy widow of French President Georges Pompidou, died Tuesday in Paris, her foundation said.

The Claude Pompidou Foundation gave no cause of death. Georges Pompidou was president of France from 1969 until he died in office April 2, 1974.

Passionate about modern art, Claude Pompidou supported efforts to create the modern art museum that bears her husband's name. Opened in 1977, the audacious, tube-covered Pompidou Center is one of Paris' most popular museums.

She was also committed to philanthropy. Her foundation, set up in 1970, helps disabled children, the elderly and hospital patients.

She was born Claude Cahour, the daughter of a doctor, on Nov. 13, 1912, in Chateau-Gontier, a town in the Mayenne region of west-central France. She met her future husband in Paris, when she was a first-year law student, and they married in 1935.

In a 2004 interview with the newspaper Le Figaro, she said that her years in the presidential palace were hard but that she never regretted her husband's decision to go into politics.

"I cannot say that the weight of political life was pleasurable for me," she was quoted as saying. "But it was destiny, absolute destiny."

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