In 1998, Congresswoman Stephanie Jones came to the US Congress from Ohio, and she was as kind as she was ready and competent to serve.
As a former judge and prosecutor, she gave heft to floor debates resisting the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
She quickly earned a reputation as a member who was ready to accept any legislative assignment and there was no question that she'd get it done - and well.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi found her so competent and beyond reproach that she gave her a leadership position on the House Ethics Committee, and she was a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Her true spirit is best captured by the memory of her ready smile - as if life's unfolding moments brought her nothing but joy. When an aneurysm cut short her life this week, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) remembered "her infectious humor and that thousand watt smile."
When we were in Boston for the Democratic Convention in 2004, we saw her at one of the many receptions, and she spoke at length as a mother about one of her favorite topics, her only child, Mervyn Leroy Jones Jr., what kind of young man he was and what he was doing, asking with genuine interest after our children. The best in politics truly love people and are concerned and interested about who they are and what they are doing and caring that all is well. Congresswoman Jones was that kind of politician. She loved people and she loved tackling difficult problems.
This primary election season, Congresswoman Jones supported Senator Hillary Clinton for President and, at the victory party when Hillary carried Ohio, her son, Mervyn, was again at her side, at the celebration.
She was the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Ohio, and she was first in the hearts of her congressional colleagues and her constituents.
It is hard to imagine that she will not be at this convention in Denver with her son at her side.