COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The widow of a popular South Carolina governor credited with helping make the Republican Party a powerful force in the state has died.

Family spokesman Bob McAlister tells The Associated Press that Iris Campbell died overnight Monday at her home in Debordieu in Georgetown County after a brief illness. She was 77.

As South Carolina's first lady, Iris Campbell said she hoped people would remember her for work to help children.

"Peggy and I are heartbroken to hear of the passing of Iris Campbell," said Gov. Henry McMaster in a statement. "We loved her. We were blessed to have called her and her late husband friends, and will miss her dearly. This loss leaves us saddened, but also grateful to know that she is reunited with Carroll and that they are both resting well with their Lord and Savior."

McAlister said Campbell's family will announce funeral arrangements later. She leaves behind two sons, Carroll and Mike Campbell.

Gov. Carroll Campbell died in 2005 after battling Alzheimer's disease. He was governor from 1987 until 1995.