Statement as issued Wednesday by the Republican caucus of the Indiana House of Representatives:
For the past 35 years, State Representative Phyllis Pond has faithfully served Hoosiers of northeast Indiana. Rep. Pond was the longest serving female state representative in the history of Indiana and the first female lawmaker to earn a seat in the front row in the House Chamber.
We, as legislators of Allen County, would like to share our heartfelt thoughts about our friend Phyllis Pond.
State Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne): “We, as freshman legislators, were told to seek out seasoned members to look to as examples of how to present ourselves and essentially be successful state representatives. Phyllis was one of the first who came to mind. I am inspired by all Phyllis accomplished during her 35 years in office. From her monumental strides in improving our education system to her knowledgeable contributions on the House Ways and Means Committee to the wonderful example she set for other female legislators, Phyllis’s legacy will live on.”
State Rep. Kathy Heuer (R-Columbia City): “Phyllis and I shared a condo my first three years in the state legislature, and I could not have asked for a better mentor. I loved coming home after a day in the General Assembly and talking about the bills we had heard or were working on. She would sit in her favorite chair and say, ‘Let me tell you how this all started and who was involved.’ Of all the things she taught me, three things rise to the top: Never think you have all the answers, always listen more than you talk, and always be sure you understand both sides of any issue. I will miss this lady warrior who right to the end had Allen County on her mind. She was fair, honest and ahead of her time.”
State Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne): “It was an honor to have worked with Phyllis. With her many decades of experience, I would often rely upon her knowledge particularly when it came to education matters. My fondest memory of working with her was when the Maplecrest Bridge opened connecting our two districts. We kidded each other about welcoming the other to our respective communities. I will always remember the kindness and wisdom she instilled in me that day. The Fort Wayne community has lost one of its greatest champions.”
State Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne): “The first time I met Phyllis was when she came to visit my high school. Little did I know then that one day we would be colleagues. When I recounted this story to Phyllis, she perked up and quickly reminisced about ‘her district,’ and began to name people, places and events in the area. I was fascinated that after all those years and the many new district lines that she still knew ‘her district.’ That was Phyllis. She made the effort to appreciate and care for her constituents and that is an example for all of us to follow.”
State Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington): “Phyllis was a great friend and mentor. She was someone I looked to for advice – particularly on education and children’s issues. Her dedication and commitment to serving the community were examples that incoming and veteran legislators alike strived to follow. Admired by all, Phyllis was every bit as gentle as she was courageous. She had a measured demeanor, but was never afraid to stand up for her principles. Phyllis will be greatly missed by her friends, loved ones and everyone in the Legislature.”
State Rep. David Ober (R-Albion): “Some of the best words of wisdom I ever received came from Phyllis. She once told me to listen more than I speak. As simple as that sounds, it actually holds great weight – especially since we are elected to act as the voice of our districts. I looked to Phyllis as a mentor and always took her counsel seriously. She saw our state through the bad times and the good; through being in the minority and the majority; through poor economic conditions and times of plenty. Her presence in the House, her district and Indiana will be greatly missed.”
State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn): “Phyllis was a great stateswoman and public servant. She helped Hoosiers for many years. During my first session, I noticed that when she had something to say, everyone took notice and listened. It was her institutional memory and experience with a variety of legislative matters that helped the House of Representatives navigate some difficult policy issues in a productive and effective way. I am glad to have had the chance to know her, and I appreciate all she did for Indiana.”
As we remember Phyllis in the days and weeks ahead, we will each reflect on her legacy of commitment to the community and dedicated service, and do our part to carry it with us for years to come.