She died at home surrounded by her family, the spokeswoman said. Richards was found to have esophageal cancer in March and underwent chemotherapy treatments.
The silver-haired, silver-tongued Richards said she entered politics to help others - especially women and minorities who were often ignored by Texas' male-dominated establishment.
"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone,'" Richards said shortly before leaving office in January 1995.
I wonder what the world we live in today would have been like if Richards hadn't lost the Texas gubernatorial race to one George W. Bush.