CARTHAGE, Tenn. – Former Vice President Al Gore (search) remembered his mother at her funeral Saturday as an inspiring role model for women who believed education was the "key to freedom in life."
"She wanted everyone to personally feel the enlightenment from knowledge that she had felt in her own life," Gore said of Pauline LaFon Gore (search), who died Wednesday at the age of 92.
"It was her deep conviction that education opens the door to a new way of understanding the world and provides the key to freedom in life."
More than 200 people attended the funeral at the United Methodist Church in Carthage, a small town about 50 miles east of Nashville where the Gore family owns a farm.
Al Gore's oldest daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff (search), remembered her grandmother as a powerful example to others.
"She inspired and motivated younger women to be independent thinkers and to respect themselves," she said.
Born in poverty in the small town of Palmersville, Tenn., Pauline Gore became one of the first female graduates of Vanderbilt University's law school in 1936. She met her future husband while working as a coffee-shop waitress to pay for classes.
Her husband, Albert Gore Sr. (search), was elected to the U.S. House from 1939 to 1953 and then to the Senate from 1953 to 1970. His wife played a central role in shaping his campaign strategy. The senior Gore was also briefly a vice presidential candidate himself during the 1956 Democratic National Convention. He died in 1998.
Gore's father was one of the few senators from the South to refuse to sign the segregationist Southern Manifesto (search) in 1956. His opposition to the Vietnam War ended his 32 years in Congress.
"She strengthened him and confirmed him in his inclination to fight for justice and to stand against the wrong, even if the political wind was blowing in the opposite direction," Al Gore said.
Pauline Gore campaigned for her son when he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988. During the 1992 campaign, she and her husband campaigned for the Clinton-Gore ticket.
"She had an unbelievably strong and sharp mind," Gore said. "When I ran for Congress in 1976, she immediately remembered people from the campaign of 1938 — almost 40 years earlier — called them and mobilized them."
Gore said his own political career was inspired by his mother's sense of justice, which extended to civil rights and environmental causes. He said he became an environmentalist after his mother read Rachel Carson's 1962 book "Silent Spring," which exposed the hazards of the pesticide DDT.
When he visited her after giving a speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer, Gore recalled that his mother, who had trouble speaking in later years because of strokes, told him, "You made a good speech, son."
"I can't tell you the impact that those words had on me," Gore said.