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[r29] Column: Losing a dear friend and colleague
Start Date: 9/25/2013Start Time: 12:00 PM
End Date: 9/25/2013End Time: 1:59 PM
Entry Description
Losing a dear friend and colleague

In this week's column, I want to share another side of the General Assembly...when you lose a friend and colleague.  Just like any other job or business, the people you work with become more than co-workers – they are like family. I served with State Representative Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven) for 21 years of her 35 years serving in the Legislature. For anyone that met Phyllis, they know that there wasn’t a nicer, more genuine public official in the General Assembly. Her love of teaching and helping others knew no bounds as she dedicated her life to both endeavors; teaching for over 40 years, 37 of which were at New Haven Elementary School. 

She was a true advocate for bettering our state’s education system and taking on issues that were in the best interests of students and teachers. Her drive and willingness to go the extra mile on legislative issues, big or small, brought all parties together to work collaboratively and was a major benefit to the political process.
 
Rep. Pond was many things, but, most importantly, she was my friend and mentor. She passed away on Sunday after having recently been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. Her service was very important to her, and, even as her health weakened this past year, she was determined to attend session and vote on issues of importance to her. She was a true, modern day patriot since first being elected to the House of Representatives in 1978. She was the longest serving woman in the Legislature, and the first woman to sit in the front row of the House Chamber in the body’s 189 years of existence.  
 
In the education field, Rep. Pond was a vocal leader. Her years of experience being a kindergarten teacher were instrumental in taking the lead on the Primetime Education Bill, which capped kindergarten through third grade classroom sizes at 18 unless a teacher’s aide was available to help manage more students. Throughout her tenure, she championed and supported education measures that have improved the livelihood and education of Hoosier students. 
 
She and I served on the Judiciary committee for many years together, both of us being non-attorneys! That didn't stop her from voicing her concerns and offering her ideas in the area of Problem Solving Courts, child support issues and other areas of family law.
 
Phyllis was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee for more than 20 years, always offering her common sense ideas in a world that can sometimes get way too complicated for no need.  
 
Near and dear to her heart were military issues and supporting veterans. During the holidays, she always encouraged people to send cards and words of encouragement to those serving and fighting overseas. To her, it was the least she could do to say thank you and show her support for all they were doing for our personal safety.
 
She gave back to her community by being involved in the New Haven Women's Club, National Order of Women Legislators and Biomedical Services of the American Red Cross. She was a Precinct Committeeman, 4-H leader, Cub Scout den mother and Girl Scout leader. Her greatest satisfaction was always in giving back to others. 
 
Phyllis was married to George Pond for 62 years, and they had three children; sons Bill and Doug and her daughter Jean. Jean is the one of her children I have been closest to for many years. She attended many functions over the years with her mom and often on her days off would stop by the Statehouse to sit in on our sessions. They were very close like my mom and I, and she is going to miss her mother very much. We have talked about it a lot, especially over the last few months, in regards to how lucky we are to have such a wonderful relationship with our mothers.
 
Rep. Pond may have been small in stature, but you shouldn't let that fool you. She stood up for what she thought was right and wouldn't back down, which was something I admired. No task was too small or too daunting – she handled them all the same. Her lively spirit, even to her last few days, was infectious to all of those around her, and her most endearing quality. She was an iconic leader for Fort Wayne and our state, and she was a role model for women as she showed you could have a family, a career and still serve in the General Assembly.
 
Phyllis knew that her illness was going to keep her from serving the only way she knew how – giving 110 percent – and had decided that she would retire and open the seat up for someone else to take care of the district and the area she had represented so well for so many years.  Her retirement was to start October 15th.  
 
Thanks for letting me share another aspect of the General Assembly. As I reflect on my relationship with Phyllis, it is her Spirit and her friendship I will miss the most. I send my love, prayers and thanks to the Pond family for sharing Phyllis with those of us at the Statehouse. As Jean texted me last night, “God has called her home”. Rest in Peace.

-30-
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 3172329831
Email: nicholas.goodwin@iga.in.gov
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