Farewell, Sally Crowe

Frank Capra could have produced a wonderful film, “Sally Crowe Comes to Washington,” about the beloved hostess of the House Members’ Dining Room who recently passed away.

When Sally began working for the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria, Harry Truman was president. Young men named Goldwater, Inouye, Dole, McGovern, Bentsen and Kennedy were war heroes destined for great things. Margaret Chase Smith had moved from the House to become a rarity at that time: a female senator!

Sally Crowe was a great lady of the Great Generation. In her decades of service to Congress she left a long trail of warm hearts and big smiles, bringing the best of the American character to the core of our Capitol.

No matter how many times I enter the Capitol, I am struck by the history, tradition and lore of this building that is the center of our democratic life.

One can enter the Capitol on the Senate side, where Jefferson wrote rules for the upper chamber, and walk across to the place where John Quincy Adams thought so highly of the People’s House that after leaving the presidency, he asked his constituents to send him there, where he served brilliantly.

Sally Crowe embodied the values, ethics and traditions of this great place. With members, staff and all involved with the business of Congress working long and hard hours, Sally hosted the Members’ Dining Room as a home away from home in the House, where all who entered became part of her extended family.

When I wrote a tribute to her on The Hill’s Pundits Blog, it is only natural that I, as a Democrat who worked for the House leadership, was joined by Republicans from across the aisle in sharing a warm admiration for this special lady.

John Feehery, who had worked for Speaker Hastert, wrote of Sally as one of the unsung heroes of Capitol Hill who truly loved the institution. Ron Christie, who had worked for Vice President Cheney, wrote how Sally viewed the world not as red or blue but as someone who saw everyone as the most special person she was honored to meet.

When I walk into the House Members’ Dining Room, I can associate almost every table with some memory of the place where great matters are discussed, history is on the menu and romance sometimes blossoms between members.

I cannot tell you how many times I have entered the Members’ Dining Room at odd hours, often in a mad rush with no notice, and sometimes with the most important VIP guests: constituents. Sally was always there with her radiant smile, her glowing hair, her tactful manner and wonderful style, making us feel like the most important people on earth, making us feel that her place was our home.

We live in an age where good will, courtesy, respect and a sense of history could be a larger part of our politics, and where the phrase “thank you” could be said more often.

To all who work in our Capitol, I say thanks and to Sally I say thank you, farewell and God bless. You have seen history walk through your doors and Americans of every kind walk through your life. You have touched us all and made us a little bit better. We were privileged to share your presence.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.