I’m going to miss Phyllis Pond. She and I shared a condo in Indianapolis my first three years in the state legislature, and I could not have asked for a better mentor.
I loved coming home after a long day in the General Assembly and talking about the bills we either heard about or were working on.
I would sometimes ask if she could tell me a little about the history of an issue. She would sit in her favorite chair, tuck her legs up under her like a teenager and begin with: Let me tell you how this all started, and who was involved.
Phyllis was first elected in a time when it was not cool for women to run for office. She was a warrior for her constituents, a warrior for education and a warrior of the times. She figured out how to make alliances and get bills passed on her own. Allen County was always at the forefront of her mind, and she always asked herself how any proposed bill would affect her constituents back home.
Phyllis was also a warrior when it came to pain. She had to have back surgery before one of our sessions began and was still recovering when the session started. She would sometimes take breaks to lie down during that time of healing, but when an important bill came up for final vote, she never missed it. In pain or not, Phyllis was going to be sure her constituents were well represented. She was their warrior.
Of all the things she taught me, three rise to the top of the list. Kathy, she would say, never think you have all the answers, always listen more than you talk and always be sure you understand both sides of any issue. She always wanted to be sure she understood why people were either for or against any bill on the floor of the General Assembly before she would cast her vote. She was fair, honest and ahead of her time. She was her constituents’ lady warrior.
I will miss that lady warrior.