I can tell you exactly when I became a died in the wool Democrat in my own right.  

It was an autumn afternoon in 1972, and Jerry Litton came to Cainsville and answered every question that the 20 or so people who bothered to show up in Velma Francis’ restaurant under the town square cared to ask.  One of those questions came from a nine-year-old girl who stubbornly went to the event even though it meant missing the school bus and a potential five-mile walk.  Her question was answered without a trace of condescension or irritation, and the die was cast at that instant, and would have been even if he hadn’t taken down my information and sent a Christmas and birthday card every year for the rest of his life.    

Four years later, when he, his wife and their two children were killed in a plane crash on the way to a victory party after winning the Senate primary on August 3, 1976, I was crushed.  I cried for two days.  I felt like our legacy – and on a selfish note, my future Senate internship and my fantasy of being the first female West Point appointment – had been snatched away.  

Still today, if I were to drive into Chillicothe from the north, I would be overwhelmed with a crushing sense of loss over what might have been as I passed the Litton Charolais farms.  I would look to the east and take in that beautiful home and tear up.  

Today, that loss is flooding back.  I just learned that Congressman Litton’s mother, Mildred Litton, passed away on Christmas morning at the age of 98.  Parents are not supposed to bury their children, much less face a loss like Mildred Litton bore with grace and dignity for 32 years.  May she rest in peace.