Sunday, November 08, 2009

Remembering Jean Cryor

By Cheryl Kagan.

Tomorrow, Jean Cryor will be laid to rest. She was my friend, former House colleague, and co-teacher at Montgomery College. As the community prepares to pay its respects to this tremendous woman, I thought I’d share my thoughts.

She was respected and liked by virtually everyone who ever knew her or knew her work.

She was a ferociously devoted mother and grandmother, perpetually bragging about her family.

She was thoughtful, always writing personal notes to friends and constituents.

She was wise, with an ability to see beyond party lines and beyond geographic borders.

She was elegant, always looking like the ‘grande dame’ that she was.

She was funny, with almost a schoolgirl’s ability to giggle and share stories.

She was really smart, understanding the fiscal implications of proposed policies intuitively.

She was not a techie, although I think she loved relying on her daughters and others for assistance.

She was a gracious host. When I went to her home to work with her on our syllabus for Montgomery College, she had prepared a lovely platter of fruit, cheese, and crackers. It looked like she was expecting fancy company… rather than just me!

Jean and I used to joke that we were co-chairs of the “Thinkers’ Caucus.” There was a Women’s Caucus, a Sportsman’s Caucus, a Rural Caucus, a Black Caucus, and many other demographic or geographic groupings. Jean and I were two legislators who were comfortable working with (and voting with) colleagues from the other party. We based our votes on what made sense to us, not on parties or polls. Jean often commented that rather than meeting in a large committee room, our hypothetical “T.C.” would likely convene in a telephone booth!

It could be frustrating to talk to Jean. Because she worked so hard in each of her capacities (journalist, legislator, Planning Board member, etc.), she often assumed that everyone else had her level of knowledge. She’d be talking about a bill or proposed project as though we all knew the acronyms and details that she was immersed in. (Sorry, Jean, for ending this sentence with a preposition; the grammatically correct alternative sounded too stuffy!)

She was a devoted friend and neighbor. Among her cherished confidants was my beloved cousin, Elaine White, who died earlier this year. Jean was among the girlfriends who visited regularly at the hospital during Elaine’s long illness.

In the days immediately following Jean’s death, I called a number of current and former members of the House of Delegates and asked them what words first came to mind when they thought about our late colleague, Jean Cryor. The answers I got included:

• Funny
• Classy
• Very Smart
• Independent
• Fair
• Decent
• Rational
• Polite
• Savvy
• Principled
• Nice
• Thoughtful
• A Uniter
• Devoted to Public Service
• Gentle…but Strong, and
• Remarkable.

I think that captures our friend Jean.

Cheryl Kagan served with Jean Cryor in the House of Delegates from 1995 through 2003.