GRANGER, Ind.--Congresswoman Jackie Walorski shook this mortal coil one week before her Thursday funeral, the attendees of which were privy to tales of her staunch love for Indiana and her district, and of her love for Jesus Christ, which her husband said was manifest in the attitude by which she approached the service of her office.
“We prayed that her position in Congress was not a position for her or I to get a big head, but, that it would be used of the Gospel to reach thousands of lives,” said Dean Swihart, Walorski’s husband.
She and Swihart had been married since 1995, and had seen several careers together: missionary, head of a non-profit in Romania, member of Congress.
As is often done at funerals, the people who spoke remembered kindly Walorski’s Christian attributes, political acumen and her way of taking charge. It was a trait that both made her stand out, and endeared her to U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
“You’re gonna hear a lot about how Jackie lights up a room. I want to be honest with you. She doesn’t just light up a room. She runs the room,” he said, remarking about how in her freshman year, just a babe in the body, she injected her own ideas into a retreat.
“She had good ideas of what we should do at the retreats that she’s never been to,” recalled McCarthy. “She said Dean needs to come and play the saxophone. And, she was right. That’s what we needed.”
McCarthy introduced a pre-recorded hymn, saying he knew that Walorski loved the long and the sentiment behind it. “I’ll Fly Away” played on the speakers at the filled Granger Community Church, where some 2,000 Hoosiers and visitors populated the pews to pay tribute to a woman who, according to her husband, would sing and worship around the house, at a time when no one else was watching, praising God with no hypocritical pretence.
That is how the church pastors, introducing the service, believed the Second District representative would want to be remembered, much less for her politics and political career, and more for the faith she professed, and according to Gov. Eric Holcomb, lived.
“We revel in this hope that we find solace and joy in the depths of gratitude for the impact that she had on us,” said the governor.
Though her faith may have guided her life, McCarthy recalled how that faith also informed her Congressional positions. She was asked to serve on the House Ethics Committee.
“When there was an opening there was only one person I thought to call to be the lead Republican. Why? Because of her ethics, her integrity and her respect on both sides of the aisle,” said McCarthy.
And, it was the impact that she had in both aspects of her life that Holcomb spoke about.
“It is impossible on one day to quantify what this Lady Liberty, this true Hoosier torch bearer, this faithful servant accomplished.”
The attempt at quantification continued past those remarks and on to words from her colleagues and friends from that life for which she became best known, through to her death, the life of an Indiana Congresswoman, celebrated by her Republican contemporaries and acknowledged by Democrats, including the two Hoosiers with whom she served.