By Nathan L. Gonzales
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), who died last week, was not one of those Members of Congress who makes Washington, D.C., their home and rarely goes back to their district. I know, because I lived above her in a D.C. apartment building for the past five years.
Even though her time in Washington was limited, it didn’t stop Jones from leaving her mark on her Capitol Hill neighbors.
“She was always in a good mood, always had a smile, and wanted to see how you were doing,” neighbor Betsy Abdella remembered.
Jones was known for coming home at night during the middle of the week to find a neighbor out on his or her patio, and stopping by to share in conversation and a glass of wine.
Jim Hunton knew Jones as a “neighbor and dear friend” for the past eight years and reflected on Jones’ hospitality. During condo board meetings of the small nine-unit complex on the Senate side of the Hill, the Congresswoman often served a “just-prepared delicious bowl of chili and fresh cornbread.”
While Jones was quick to embrace her D.C. neighbors, she never betrayed her Cleveland roots.
“She never made it home,” neighbor Tim Abdella said. Jones’ patio was slightly overgrown with ivy from lack of use and frequently talked to Abdella about rehanging some paintings in her modest two-bedroom condo.
The pictures were a lasting reminder of Jones’ husband, who tragically died more than four years ago. His final project was painting a wall in their living room, but Jones never had it completed after he passed away.
I will miss the murmur of her television late at night when Congress was in session, and like the rest of her neighbors, we’ll miss her contagious smile and warm heart. And I appreciate how she never demanded to be treated differently from anyone else.
“She didn’t want to be on a pedestal. She wanted to be like everyone else,” Betsy Abdella said. “She wanted to be your neighbor.
“Many, many of us will miss you, Stephanie,” Hunton added. “We loved you.”
This story first appeared in Roll Call on August 27, 2008. 2008 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Friday, August 29, 2008
By Nathan L. Gonzales