At a memorial service in Cleveland Saturday, hundreds came to pay their respects to Cleveland Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who died earlier this month of a brain hemorrhage. Among them were presidential candidate Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. ideastream®’s Dan Bobkoff reports.
Stephanie Tubbs Jones was remembered as a trailblazer—the first African American woman to hold a long list of high profile positions, including the first elected to congress from Ohio. Governor Ted Strickland said there’s a lesson in that.
STRICKLAND: One of the many lessons that we can learn from Stephanie’s life and all of her firsts, is that we need not ever wait for permission to do that which has never been done before.
Tubbs Jones was acquainted with Bill and Hillary Clinton even prior to her election to Congress in 1998, but in recent years they became close friends. The former President said she was one of the finest people he knew.
BILL CLINTON: A force for good. A force whose love and energy empowered the rest of us.
That friendship was a big reason Tubbs Jones became such an early and enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, and stayed loyal throughout her campaign. But for Stephanie, Clinton told the audience, friendship carried with it responsibility.
HILLARY CLINTON: When she was your friend, she felt it her responsibility to inform you of all the matters that needed improvement.
And as Barack Obama began to rival Clinton in the presidential race, Tubbs Jones took some criticism for not backing the first viable African American candidate. In his remarks, Obama remembered meeting Tubbs Jones on the trail, when she still supported Clinton.
OBAMA: She just said to me, ‘this is what it means to be a friend for me.’ And all I could say is, ‘I understand.’
Obama called on those gathered to continue her legacy.
OBAMA: We’ve all got some unfinished business to attend to. The business of shaking things up and asking hard questions and insisting on hard truths.
Many of the young elected officials Tubbs Jones mentored spoke, as did her mentor and predecessor in Congress, the legendary Louis Stokes. He said the two remained close.
STOKES: Whenever we’d talk on the phone, she’d say, ‘Congressman, I love you.’ And, I’d say, ‘I love you too.” She was a great congresswoman and a great friend. Good night, Stephanie. I love you.
Tubbs Jones was thought to be in the prime of her career. Her body is to be cremated.