WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered the following remarks today at the memorial service honoring the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.
“Stephanie Tubbs Jones once told a reporter: ‘I have no illusions about myself. It could all go up in a puff of smoke. I’ll never lose sight of that.’
“Few of us can claim to have sight as clear as that. We hear word of a death like Stephanie’s—a death too sudden to leave time for settling up, for saying goodbye—and our first thought says: ‘It wasn’t her time yet.’
“But if we are blessed with some of the wisdom Stephanie had, maybe that first thought gives way to a second. Maybe the second thought asks: ‘Who are we to name the right time, for her, or for any of us?’
“We are legislators, and by nature we are good at waiting. We wait for a favorite bill to come to the floor; we wait for a consensus to form; we can wait for years for our chance in the majority. In so many ways, this place runs on patience. But when we lose a friend like Stephanie, when we lose her like this, we are reminded that none of us gets to wait forever. There is a time for patience, and there is a time for urgency.
“Stephanie lived a life of urgency. It was behind her passion for Southern cooking and for sailing the Chesapeake. It was behind her unshakable friendships and her unbeatable smile. It was behind her unstoppable work for voters shut out, for children abused, for families denied a doctor’s care.
Behind all of it were the simple questions: ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’
“Here in this room, where presidents and statesmen sat, where these statues stand in for so many of our heroes, we honor the daughter of a skycap and a cook, who rose to be a judge, a leader, a breaker of so many barriers—all on the strength of her conviction that she had no time to lose.
“We mourn our friend—and we give thanks for the 58 years that Stephanie Tubbs Jones lived so well.”