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Cesar Chavez's Widow Helen Chavez Dies In California At 88

Carolyn Kaster / AP

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Cesar Chavez' widow, Helen F. Chavez, places a special "Cesar Chavez" red rose at the gravesite where Cesar E. Chavez was laid to rest in 1993, back in 2012.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

(AP) - Helen Chavez, widow of civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez, has died at age 88.

A family statement released through the United Farm Workers says Helen Chavez died Monday at a hospital in Bakersfield, California, surrounded by many of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. No cause of death was given.

Born in the town of Brawley in the California desert near the Mexico border, she met Cesar Chavez in the mid-1940s and married him in 1948. In the early 1960s, the couple left a comfortable middle-class existence in East Los Angeles to organize farm workers in California's Central Valley.

They had eight children, and Helen Chavez had to care for them alone for long stretches while he was traveling.

Cesar Chavez died in Arizona in 1993.