Phyllis Schlafly, America's most  outspoken and most magnificent conservative woman, died on Monday at age 92.

Thanks to her unceasing agitation when all seemed stacked against her, we don't have an Equal Rights Amendment in our Constitution that would have made radical feminism the supreme law of the land. And thanks to her faith in America's grass roots, we got Ronald Reagan as a two-term president and a conservatism miraculously revived from the death's doorstep where it had resided after Barry Goldwater's defeat in 1964 and Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974.

To sum up her life, I'm going to quote liberally from the review, titled "The Great Woman Theory of History," that I wrote for First Things in 2005 of Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism, Donald Critchlow's fine study of Schlafly's political career:

The story of Phyllis Schlafly, as Critchlow, a professor of history at St. Louis University, tells it, is a story of conservatism operating far from centers of political and cultural power but crucial to the most important domestic political event of the second half of the twentieth century: the ascendancy and triumph of the once-moribund American right. In Critchlow’s view, the quintessentially grassroots Schlafly was perhaps the pivotal figure in this process. Tough, smart, fearlessly outspoken, and possessed of an uncanny gift for strategically mobilizing her Middle American supporters (overwhelmingly women, those housewives from Peoria), she not only beat back the seemingly unstoppable ERA but played a key role in securing the presidential nominations of Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Ronald Reagan in 1980, paving the way for today’s Bush presidency and Republican dominance of Congress and statehouses across the country….

Phyllis Stewart graduated as class valedictorian and won a full scholarship to a Catholic women’s college, but she decided that the place was not academically rigorous enough for her and transferred after her first year to Washington University. There, with no scholarship, she paid her way with a full-time job testing ammunition on the night shift at a St. Louis ordnance plant. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Washington in three years, won a fellowship to study politics at Radcliffe, and emerged a year later with a straight-A average, a master’s degree, and glowing recommendations from her professors, who urged her to continue to a doctorate at Harvard….

She worked for a year in Washington with the predecessor to today’s American Enterprise Institute. The experience”the only extended period of time she spent in Washington”exposed her to anti-liberalism as a philosophical proposition and made her a lifelong exponent of free enterprise and the preservation of American liberty. She also learned the art there of translating complex issues into simplified arguments that could be understood by average readers, an art that she put to use in the twenty polemical books she turned out over the decades, many of them bestsellers (the most famous, A Choice, Not an Echo , introducing Goldwater to her grassroots supporters in 1964, sold 3 million copies and is still in print).

Phyllis Stewart married Fred Schlafly, a likeminded Republican lawyer, in 1949. They moved across the Mississippi River to Alton, Illinois, in whose environs they lived until Fred Schlafly’s death in 1994. The pair raised four boys and two girls, every one of whom subsequently enjoyed a successful career in academia, medicine, business, or law. Even as a housewife and young mother who breastfed all her children and taught them to read before they started school, Phyllis Schlafly immersed herself in political and civic organizations: the Radcliffe Club, the YWCA, the Community Chest, the Illinois Federation of Republican Women, the Daughters of the American Revolution. She ran for Congress in 1952 and lost to a popular Democratic incumbent (she lost another congressional race under similar circumstances in 1970), but by then she was already a popular public speaker and formidable debater whose passions were unyielding anticommunism and a strong nuclear defense in the Cold War.

Critchlow shrewdly notes what most feminist ideologues have failed to understand: There was nothing paradoxical or incongruous about Schlafly’s pride in her homemaker status and her intense political preoccupations; she was carrying on a decades-old American tradition of women’s involvement in public causes, from the antislavery and temperance movements to various kinds of social and moral reform. For Schlafly, it was perfectly natural, indeed proper, for wives and mothers to have political careers, and throughout the 1950s and 1960s she urged Republican women to think of themselves as more than the envelope-stuffers and luncheon adornments. By the time the feminist movement appeared in the late 1960s, Schlafly had already outflanked it….

Overnight in 1972, she shifted the focus of her interests from defense to social issues and founded the STOP ERA movement. The ERA at that moment seemed unstoppable, having been passed by overwhelming majorities of both houses of Congress and already approved by thirty of the thirty-eight states needed for ratification. The next ten years proved Schlafly’s strategic genius and boundless energy. She had already learned how to forge a conservative alliance between traditionalist Catholic and evangelical Christian women, and she deftly enlarged the coalition to include Mormon and Orthodox Jewish women in a decade-long battle in which the stakes, as she defined them, were the home, the family, and traditional faith and culture. The promoters of the ERA had the media, celebrities, and national-level politicians on their side, but Schlafly and her grassroots allies knew how to work the state legislatures where the ratification skirmishes were fought. In the middle of all of this”a grueling nonstop regimen of speaking dates and meetings”Schlafly put herself through law school, graduating from Washington University in 1978 at age fifty-four.

I wrote that review when Schlafly was 81. Since that year, she added five more books to her publication roster, including an updated 50th-anniversary reissue of A Choice, Not an Echo in 2014. She proved herself to be still the feisty fighter against political correctness and mindless ideological conformity when Washington University awarded her a well-deserved honorary doctorate in 2008:

A protest to rescind Schlafly's honorary degree received support from faculty and students. During the ceremony, hundreds of the 14,000 attendees, including one third of the graduating students and some faculty, silently stood and turned their backs to Schlafly in protest.[75] In the days leading up to the commencement there were several protests regarding her degree award; Schlafly described these protesters as "a bunch of losers."[70] In addition, she stated after the ceremony that the protesters were "juvenile" and that, "I'm not sure they're mature enough to graduate."

Phyllis Schlafly wasn't based in the usual centers of political power, Washington and New York, so even her fellow conservatives have had a tendency to forget that she existed, and certainly to forget how much influence she wielded on the people who count the most in the American system: voters. But we forget Phyllis Schlafly–wife, mother, activist, and prolific and powerful writer–at our peril.