Just 61 years old. The doctors stopped treating her cancer a few days ago because it would be “unproductive” and she posted a farewell message on Facebook only yesterday.

Her youngest son is 10.

The daughter of a decorated Navy pilot, Mary Elizabeth Anania spent her childhood at military bases in the U.S. and Japan. She met John Edwards while they both attended the University of North Carolina School of Law, and they married in 1977 during the same week they both took the bar exam.

Elizabeth Edwards dazzled her future husband and her classmates with her intelligence, humor, and grit. One classmate later recalled how she could stop a law professor cold after a 20-minute grilling on a case.

“The smartest lawyer I know is my wife, Elizabeth,” John Edwards once said.

“From the time she was a toddler, she was extremely impassioned, blazingly intelligent,” said her brother, Jay Anania, a New York film director.

Her first son died in a car accident when he was a teenager, and if you’ve read “Game Change” (or any of the more salacious excerpts), you know that she and John had had a stormy relationship even before Rielle Hunter entered the picture. Although they were comfortable financially, in many ways she had a tough life. I hope she found some peace at the end.

Update (Ed): Although I don’t share Elizabeth Edwards’ political views, she struck me as a strong woman with more than the usual heavy load, as Allahpundit also notes.  She will have more peace in the next life.  We’ll say prayers for her, her family, and the many friends she made along the way.