MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Cornelia Wallace, a former first lady of Alabama who threw herself over her husband, Gov. George C. Wallace, when he was shot in a 1972 assassination attempt, died on Thursday in Sebring, Fla. She was 69.
The cause was cancer, her cousin Melissa Boyen said.
Mr. Wallace’s first wife, Lurleen Wallace, succeeded him in 1967 after his first term, when he could not run for a second consecutive term; she died in office the next year.
Cornelia Wallace was the niece of a two-term governor, James E. Folsom, known as Big Jim. The marriage was surprising to some because Mr. Wallace defeated Mr. Folsom in the 1962 race for governor and their relationship had become strained.
She was accompanying her husband on the Democratic campaign trail for president when Arthur Bremer shot him four times at a rally in Laurel, Md. A news camera captured her throwing herself over her husband’s body to shield him as he lay bleeding in a shopping center parking lot. Mr. Wallace had a long recovery from the wounds, which left his legs paralyzed.
The Wallaces divorced in 1978, amid claims that she had bugged his phone in the Governor’s Mansion. A subsequent marriage of his also ended in divorce; he died in 1998.
Mrs. Wallace entered the Democratic primary for governor in 1978, but she never campaigned hard and finished last among the 13 candidates. She later moved to central Florida to be near her sons from her previous marriage.
Survivors include her two sons, James Snively of Lake Placid, Fla., and Joshua Snively of Winter Haven, Fla.; and a brother, Charles Ellis of Elba, Ala.