Thursday, November 05, 2009

Delegate Kathleen Dumais on Jean Cryor

By Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D-15).

Maryland lost an elegant and effective Stateswoman with the passing of Jean Cryor on Tuesday. I lost a very dear friend. Jean and I met on the campaign trail in 2002 when I first ran for the House of Delegates -- and we became companions in the legislature for the four years we served together. She was a wonderful mentor to me and an excellent role model. We shared the District 15 office suite and, since we were both workaholics, would often be in the office late in the evening after long committee hearings. It was wonderful to sit in her office and share my day with Jean on those evenings. We would commiserate about the legislative process, our respective parties, committees and politics in general -- local, state, and world. We confided in each other about personal and professional trials and tribulations -- and generally solved the world's problems (at least for that day). I knew she would always keep my confidence (and I hers). Between legislative sessions and after the 2006 election, we continued our friendship and regularly stayed in touch and had lunch at Hunters, one of her favorite local places.

Jean was emminently fair and kind. What was always most remarkable about her was how she personally took the time to respond to every E-mail, letter or phone call she received as a State representative. No issue or question from a constituent was too small or insignificant. When in Annapolis, one seldom saw Jean when she wasn't working on a stack of personal notes in response to contacts with her office. Jean's passion was education. She believed in her heart that providing a good education to all children was the key to a better life for the child and a better world for us all. She was loved and respected by Delegates and Senators from both parties. Her sharp intellect caught nuances in legislation and issues that were missed by many. Jean always listened and reviewed both sides of an issue and then voted her heart and her principles. Although all of us took "party line" votes on occasion, Jean never hesitated to vote her principle, regardless of how controversial. She did not speak on the floor of the House of Delegates often but, when she did, it was eloquent, pointed and passionate -- and the entire chamber listened.

But, as indicated by so many others over the past few days, her legacy is much broader than her legislative experience. She overcame adversity and excelled professionally and personally during a time when the role of women in society was in flux and changing. Jean will be remembered as a trail blazer --- though she blazed the trail in a quiet, gracious and persistent manner. Widowed at a young age and mother of three young girls, she worked and raised her children -- who, by the way, are each now competent, successful professionals in their own right. Her professional career is stellar and beyond compare --- journalist, publisher and editor, followed by her election to the State legislature and subsequent appointment to the Planning Board. Additionally, throughout her life she served on multiple non-profit boards and a myriad of committees -- she gave her time freely and unselfishly to any number of good causes. Jean made a difference while she was here; she is an inspiration.

What those of us that knew her will miss the most is her friendship -- her kindness, her intelligence, her wonderful sense of humor, her laughter and the shoulder she offered when needed. With all of the above said, however, what was always most important to Jean was her family. Nothing made her happier than her daughters and their families -- she was a devoted grandmother. My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time and I hope they know how much Jean was admired, respected and loved.