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Woman Who Held Decades-Long Protest Outside of White House Dies

A woman who maintained a decades-long peace protest outside the White House died on Monday.

Concepcion Picciotto was a well-known figure in the Washington, D.C., area who devoted her life to advocating for peace and against nuclear proliferation.

Her death was announced on Tuesday in a statement by the Peace House, the group that organizes the protest installation at the White House.

Picciotto was believed to be around 80 years old. The cause of death was not yet known.

Concepcion Picciotto (born 1945), also k
Concepcion Picciotto, also known as Conchita or Connie, is seen at her daily protest in front of the White House on March 5, 2010 in Washington, D.C. PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP-Getty Images

Picciotto, also called Connie or Conchita, manned a 24-hour vigil against nuclear proliferation from a makeshift camp next to the White House. The vigil site needed to be continuously attended by someone in order to remain in place.

She had been a fixture at the encampment site in Lafayette Square since 1981, frequently speaking to tourists about nukes.

In 2013, the peace protest came to a brief end after the site was left unattended overnight and the igloo-like tent was dismantled by authorities. The man who was supposed to stay at the camp overnight left the site.

Picciotto told NBC News in a 2013 interview following the brief shutdown of the vigil site that she would never give up on her cause.

32-year White House protest vigil to return after being removed 1:52

"At first I felt terrible," Picciotto told NBC News when she found out the tent was removed. "But now I see all these people helping to attract attention that we need to stay here. Nevertheless, I was never going to give up. I can't."

After the brief interruption, the vigil was restored the following day.

Picciotto was born in Spain and emigrated to the United States at the age of 18 to work in New York, according to a personal history Picciotto posted on the website of her disarmament campaign Proposition One's website. She moved to Washington after her marriage ended, and then began her protest.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MICHAEL MATHES "
Concepcion Picciotto stands near her signs and hut across the street from the White House March 4, 2009 in Washington, DC. Picciotto has lived in Lafayette Square on the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue across from the White House, since August 1, 1981 in protest of nuclear arms. TIM SLOAN / AFP/Getty Images

In a statement released on Tuesday, The Peace House said Picciotto manned the anti-nuclear vigil the longest of any volunteers.

"She stayed there through thick and thin and was dedicated to a cause that sometimes seemed to be like an unhealthy relationship," the statement said. "With Connie's death and as a handful of so many other volunteers we came to understand that the peace vigil was bigger than what some sometimes failed to see."