MIAMI President Barack Obama is calling Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general who died Monday, an American original.
Obama said in a statement Monday that Reno inspired a generation of lawyers and fought for a more just nation. Obama said that Reno "was tough as nails and never cowered in her fight for what was right."
Reno died early Monday at age 78 from complications of Parkinson's disease, which she had battled for more two decades.
She served as former President Bill Clinton's attorney general for eight years and ran unsuccessfully for Florida governor in 2002. She died at her home on the edge of the Everglades surrounded by family and friends.
Former President Clinton and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton say they are saddened by the death of Reno.
The Clintons said in a joint statement that Reno worked hard to balance the need to seek justice against the need to avoid abuse of power.
They cited her work in establishing drug courts that allow first-time offenders a chance to avoid jail, her advocacy for measures to prevent violence against women and enforcement of the so-called Brady Bill law that requires a waiting period and background check for handgun purchasers.
Reno was one of the Clinton administration's most recognizable and polarizing figures. She faced criticism early in her tenure for the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas.
In the spring of 2000, the Miami native enraged her hometown's Cuban-American community by authorizing the armed seizure of 5-year-old Elian Gonzalez from the home of his relatives so he could be returned to Cuba with his father.
The National Parkinson Foundation is dedicating its annual walk in downtown Miami to Reno.
Reno was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1995 but still served as in the Clinton administration until 2000. Doctors say she proved a person can lead a productive and satisfying life with the disease.
Reno raised awareness and funds for Parkinson's research and outreach, and was honorary chair of the Miami walk from 2012 to 2015. Foundation Chairman John W. Kozyak says the event Sunday will include a moment of remembrance for Reno's many contributions.
The event's grand marshal will be U.S. Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey.