"A tall tree fell in Texas today." - State Comptroller John Sharp
I have been an ardent admirer of Ann Richards since high school, when she ran her first campaign for governor. She was, quite simply, someone who made me prouder to be a Texan - and a woman. And I am still thrilled to say that I once had the distinct privilege of meeting the lady herself.
I had just transferred to TCU at the beginning of my junior year. The governor was scheduled to speak at Convocation (lots of professors walking down in robes, much boring talk, one keynote speaker), and I just happened to have a class break in the time period. No. way. I was missing it.
The lady spoke, and was as fantastic as you might expect. Just unbelievably brilliant and a tongue like an adamantine sword. When it was all over, the auditorium cleared out rather quickly...except for about 10 of us who sort of hung back to see what her "people" were going to do with her. Within a minute or two, we'd all clumped up at the edge of the stage, a diverse little clump of eager faces peering up towards her.
Her handlers started to walk her toward the back, but a few brave souls shouted out "Governor!" She stopped, turned and saw us waving. One guy took her elbow and tried to push her on.
Let me tell you: if looks could kill, that guy would have been nail-gunned to the back of the auditorium. She gracefully retrieved her elbow, strode purposefully toward the edge of the stage, and extended her hand to the first person on her left.
Who managed to say, in utter awe and amazement under her steely, amused gaze: "Hello, Governor, I'm Susan Hopper."
Our Lady moved all the way down the line, shaking every hand and posing for several photos. She was regal and gorgeous and such a very, very strong presence. And we were all as giddy as if we'd met a rock star.
I cried this morning when I saw old video of her - but I do sense it was her time to go, for some reason - a lady always knows when to take her leave. I will sorely, sorely miss her - and we will never see her equal. There is just so much that I want to say, so much I will miss about her being on the planet. And I just don't feel that anything I *could* say would be sufficient.
So I'll close with this:
All hail Our Lady of the Lone Star State. May I ever display a fraction of her steel, charm, wit, and wisdom.
Rest in peace, Governor.
P.S. This is a good place to start if you don't know much about her career. I also recommend checking out Google News for great stories from the NYT, Time, and numerous other venerable pubs.