The first woman to serve as Britain's prime minister, Thatcher ruled the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 with a conservative hand. An economic reformer, she is credited with privatizing Britain's nationalized industries, which saved once-failing companies like British Airways. The strong-willed, hard-driving Thatcher also led the country to victory in the Falklands war and was instrumental in negotiating a Cold War truce between the U.S. and Soviet Union in the 1980s. When she was 34, the wife and mother of two won a seat in Parliament, which launched her often-controversial political career. Noting that she came from a humble background – her father was a small-town grocer – President Barack Obama said, after her death on April 8 at age 87 from a stroke, that Thatcher "stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered."