Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke this evening at a rosary celebrating the life of former California Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy. Below are her remarks as prepared:
“In the book of Ecclesiastics, there is a chapter known as the ‘eulogy of heroes.' Its words are fitting today as we celebrate the life of Leo McCarthy: ‘Now let us praise great men: the heroes of our nation's history, through whom the Lord established His renown, and revealed His majesty. Some were sage counselors, who led the people by their counsels and by their knowledge of the law; out of their fund of wisdom they gave instruction. They were men of loyalty, whose good deeds have not been forgotten.'
“Leo McCarthy was such a person, and as the eulogy of heroes proclaims, ‘He will be buried in peace, but his name lives forever, as people recount his wisdom.'
“Leo's great wisdom was in knowing that the future of his children - Sharon, Conna, Adam and Niall - was linked to the destiny of all children. There were many years, when as the most senior Democrat in California politics, Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy was the main person standing between drastic cuts to benefits for our children, the elderly, and the disabled.
“Leo took seriously his responsibility to carry the banner of the Democratic Party, as he advanced social and economic justice. As Speaker of the California State House and Lieutenant Governor, Leo promoted a values-based agenda to educate our children, grow our economy, and protect our environment. And he did so, living up to the highest ethical standard.
“Leo's word was his bond, and when he promised that he would protect our seniors, or stand up for California's magnificent coastline, he kept his word.
“In fact, Leo was so scrupulously principled and honest, that there were those of us who thought he must be wearing a Boy Scout uniform under those business suits.
“What was under there was a heart of gold.
“As Willie Brown would say of Leo and Jackie's famous St. Patrick's Day party, ‘When you are Lieutenant Governor and all you can offer is good government and you can still fill the ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel, that says something about you.'
“Leo opened public service to so many across California - opening up the Democrat party and welcoming in the grassroots. As a former staffer of his said, ‘Leo liked to take chances on talent.' From him they got not only their start, but also their ethics - how to look after their family, their community, and their country.
“He also encouraged the next generation of leadership through his work at the University of San Francisco as head of the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.
“Leo helped to give me my start - encouraging me to not only support candidates, but to run for office in my own right. I consider him both a dear friend, and a purposeful mentor.
“He made my first run for office a family affair - with my children working alongside his to elect me to Congress.
“I said that he had a heart of gold. He also had the heart of a lion, which sustained him through his illness. With all the strength he could muster, and a clear mind, he gave me sage counsel and wise instruction through this last campaign - always reminding me that it was necessary to win in order to keep faith with the American people. And I know that he took special joy from our victories in November - indeed, they were his victories as well.
“Leo was optimistic to the end. As recently as Saturday night when I spoke to him, he said, ‘My morale is high; I am at home with Jackie, and my children and my grandchildren are with me.'
“More than anything, Leo loved his family: his wife Jackie, his children and grandchildren. Paul and I, indeed my entire family, extend our deepest sympathy to Jackie, Sharon, Conna, Adam, and Niall. I hope it is a comfort to them that so many people are praying for them and mourning their loss at this sad time.
“Leo: You will be buried in peace, but your name lives forever, as people recount your wisdom.”