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Surge Desk

Midge Rendell: 5 Facts on Pa.'s Former First Lady and Ed's Soon-to-Be Ex

Feb 7, 2011 – 7:10 PM
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Mary Phillips-Sandy Contributor

In an e-mail sent to friends today, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and his wife, Midge, announced they are separating after 40 years of marriage.

NBC Philadelphia reports the couple called the split "amicable" and asked their friends to continue inviting both of them to social events.

Surge Desk has learned more about Marjorie "Midge" Rendell, whose impressive career has earned slightly less recognition than the former governor's.

1. She has a distinguished legal and civic record
Midge Rendell became a U.S. District Court judge in 1994, then joined the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1997. She is also a member of the American Law Institute, the American Bankruptcy Institute, the American Judicature Society, the National Association of Women Judges and the Federal Judges Association. As first lady of Pennsylvania, she spearheaded efforts to increase civic education in the state.

Watch Judge Rendell discussing her civic education initiatives:

2. She couldn't campaign for her husband
Ethics rules precluded Midge Rendell from working on Ed Rendell's gubernatorial campaigns because of her job as a federal judge. She wasn't even allowed to appear in campaign photographs. Those who know the Rendells said that wasn't a natural role for Midge; one family friend described her as "very outgoing. She's not reserved, quiet, behind the scenes." She did, however, swear Ed Rendell in after he was elected governor.

3. The Rendells met at a law school party
Midge attended a party at Ed's apartment when he was a Villanova law student and she was a University of Pennsylvania undergrad. Although she'd arrived at the party with another man, Ed Rendell called her the next day and asked her out. How did he manage to get her number? By calling the man she'd brought as her date. (Side note: that man was David Montgomery, who went on to become the president of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.)

4. She battled sexism on the job
Before landing on the bench, Midge Rendell was an attorney, juggling the demands of a busy job and her family (she and Ed have a son, Jesse). She has spoken frequently about the challenges she faced at the beginning of her career. "I tried to handle things with a sense of humor, and I could give as good as I got," she told The Daily Pennsylvanian in 2003. She went on to describe an incident in which an older man insisted on calling her "hon" at work. She responded by dubbing him "buster."

5. She really likes moose
Her collection of stuffed moose and moose figurines includes thousands of items, many of them given as gifts by friends and acquaintances who learned of her interest. Ed Rendell told a Philadelphia blogger that Midge has loved moose since she was a child.

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