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Strength, compassion were hallmarks

Nancy Olson: Owner of Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh:

Elizabeth Edwards was a longtime customer who spent many hours talking with Olson about books. Once she became an author, Edwards appeared at Quail Ridge to sign her own books.

"She was just a beautiful writer," Olson said. "She was so articulate. The thing I liked most about her was that she cared about everyone. She comforted people who had lost children and who had cancer. She shared her feelings, and she was just such a great comfort to so many people. I was always amazed at how she connected to people when she would come for a book signing. She was just a very special person."

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.:

"Brooke [Burr] and I were saddened to learn this afternoon of the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. She was a passionate advocate for issues she believed in and a caring and loving mother. Her legacy should serve as an inspiration to all of us. Her life was not without tragedy and adversity, yet through it all she fought for her family and faced every challenge with courage, poise, and grace. Our thoughts and prayers are with her entire family, but particularly her children, Cate, Emma Claire and Jack."

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.:

"This is very sad news, and the fact that it isn't a surprise makes it no easier to hear. Elizabeth Edwards was an incredibly loving, giving and devoted mother, and Teresa [Heinz Kerry] and our entire family are grateful for the time we shared getting to know her in 2004. We have many wonderful memories of those days traveling the country and seeing firsthand Elizabeth's great affection for Cate, Jack and Emma Claire. Today all those moments are rushing back.

"The same day our campaign ended at Faneuil Hall, we saw Elizabeth head off to Mass General to confront this terrible disease. America came to know her in a different and even more personal way, as she fought back with enormous grace and dignity. She became an inspiration to so many. Teresa and I, along with our family, send our prayers and deepest sympathies to Elizabeth's family and the children she loved so much."

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.:

"I am very saddened to hear about Elizabeth Edwards' death. She was a dedicated mother and a passionate advocate for cancer research and health care causes. During her remarkable life, Elizabeth always carried herself with dignity. She used her battle with breast cancer to raise cancer awareness and create change. She faced her battle in the public eye, and I very much admired her strength and courage.

"My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this extremely difficult time."

David Kirby, college friend of both the Edwardses and former Edwards law partner: "Her father was a naval aviator and her uncle was a naval aviator and when she was a young girl she grew up on naval bases. There is something fitting about the fact that she died on Pearl Harbor Day."

Ed Turlington, a Raleigh lawyer:

Turlington met Elizabeth Edwards in the late 1980s, when he and John Edwards worked for the same law firm. Turlington traveled with Edwards' presidential campaign in 2004 in the unpaid role of general campaign chairman.

"She was passionate about issues and about helping her husband. She was always trying to have fun while she did it. When an event was over, she wanted to go to a diner, wanted to go to the hotel and watch a Carolina basketball game," or to meet and talk with local volunteers. "She took the campaign seriously, but she didn't take herself seriously."

Longtime friend Ellan Maynard of Raleigh:

Maynard suggested Elizabeth Edwards hire a caterer for the family's big, informal Christmas parties, but Edwards wanted to cook.

"She would say, 'How can I get a caterer? I have no idea how many people are coming.' She would stand there, this was in the house on Alleghany, and literally cook her brains out. ... It was open invitation, as far as I could tell.

"She was always just this sort of larger-than-life, ebullient type of person. She was just a good friend to hang with. I'll miss her a lot."

Gov. Bev Perdue:

"I was saddened to learn of the death of Elizabeth Edwards. North Carolina has lost one of our smartest and most resilient women. My heart goes out to her family."

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine:

"Elizabeth was a woman of firm convictions and strong principles, and she was an inspiration not only to members of the Democratic Party but to countless Americans of all backgrounds."