LONDON (CBS News) -- Margaret Thatcher, the first female British prime minister referred to by both ardent supporters and critics as "The Iron Lady," died Monday. She was 87.
Her former spokesman Tim Bell said she suffered from a stroke.
Tough and proud of it, Thatcher was the steeliest British Prime Minister of modern times.
Born Margaret Roberts in 1925, she became a chemist, a proud housewife, and a Conservative member of Parliament, which, she thought, was as far as she would get.
"I don't think we will see a woman prime minister in my lifetime," Thatcher once said.
In 1979, she proved herself spectacularly wrong, and her trademark -- helmet hair, cut-glass accent and bullying style -- became a staple of British satire.
But the Iron Lady had a serious mission: to modernize British industry and break the powerful trade unions.
The fallout was brutal -- violent strikes and rocketing unemployment -- but Mrs. Thatcher never wavered.
Slowly, the economy did improve, and Mrs. Thatcher's uncompromising capitalism caught on with a new generation.
Read the full CBS News article here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57578372/former-u.k-prime-minster-margaret-thatcher-dies-at-87/
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R - Kan.) released the following statement on the passing of Thatcher:
“As the first woman to serve as Britain's prime minister, Margaret Thatcher paved the way for women in leadership around the world and was a true inspiration in my life. Today, the world has lost a true champion of free-market policies, individual responsibility, and small-government principles whose conviction and hard work helped restore prosperity to Britain after difficult economic times.
“Lady Thatcher was a close friend of former President Ronald Reagan. Their special relationship strengthened the alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom, and served a critical role in rolling back communism and ending the Cold War. My thoughts are prayers are with Lady Thatcher’s friends and family, as we remember her courage, strength of character, and conservative leadership.”