On October 9, the House passed, by voice vote, a resolution (H. Res. 717) honoring Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), who died from breast cancer on October 6. Sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), H. Res. 717 expresses the House’s “profound sorrow” upon hearing of the death of Rep. Davis.
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) said of her colleague, “I, with great sadness, rise to pay tribute…to our dear colleague, Jo Ann Davis. As other women in the Congress know, there is a sisterhood among many women members. This weekend, we lost one of our sisters to a disease that has fostered another kind of sisterhood throughout the nation, breast cancer. And while Jo Ann would have chosen to confront her disease in private, she bravely and valiantly decided to take her experience to improve the experiences of other women in that sisterhood. She did so by advocating for the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act [H.R. 119] and other legislation that would improve the lives of those who suffer from this disease…I will, however, most fondly remember the many mornings I and several others spent with Jo Ann at prayer breakfasts on Wednesday mornings…We were bound together, several of us, through personal experiences with cancer. And when, amongst our fellowship, Jo Ann was first diagnosed, we supported her with prayer; and then as she regained her strength, we rejoiced. But, as so often and tragically happens with this dreaded disease and others, there was a relapse.”
Rep. Capps added, “You know, she and I had our differences in the direction of policy, but we certainly shared in our desire to let our faith serve as a guide for our work in Congress. And she was a very strong, principled person whose convictions and certainty of her faith shone through everything that she did. I know we’re going to honor our dear departed colleague by following in her strong example, by calling on our faith to serve as the motivation for our work here in Congress the way that she did. We may not measure up to her strength, but we have a role model in her…I also hope that we, as a Congress, will serve to honor her memory by redoubling our efforts to remove the scourge of cancer through support for prevention, for following her example of reaching out, through education, outreach, and awareness, and for increasing research dollars so that we can more effectively prevent and treat this disease. I join my colleagues in paying tribute to Jo Ann Davis today and offering our condolences to her family, her staff, and her constituents in this time of their sorrow. We will miss Jo Ann Davis dearly.”
Calling Rep. Davis a friend and colleague, Rep. Thelma Drake (R-VA) said, “I was honored to have served with her in both the Virginia General Assembly and now here in the U.S. Congress. Jo Ann and I had reverse roles. When Jo Ann ran for the House of Delegates, I was her mentor. I was glad to see her success at being elected there. And when I ran for the U.S. Congress in 2004, Jo Ann was my mentor. We were both realtors and shared that common bond and that friendship. I was proud to support her in her historic elevation to the Congress. Jo Ann, as you have heard, was the first Republican woman [from Virginia] to serve in this body. She was also the first woman from Virginia to be re-elected.”
Rep. Drake continued, “We all know that Jo Ann was a woman of great faith, great strength, great courage, great honesty, and great integrity. I don’t believe that it was ever Jo Ann’s intention to be a trailblazer. I think her successes in her life as a mother, a grandmother, a businesswoman, as a legislator are all the result of a path that she chose in her life, and that was the path that cared for other people first, put other people first, and that she stood very strong on the principles to protect those around her. That earned her the respect of the people of the First District, and it led her on the path to the House of Delegates and then here…It is fitting that the month of October is dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness. For even as Jo Ann battled her own illness, she saw her illness as an opportunity to help other women. When she was first diagnosed, she told me that she would be healed, and she was, from her first bout of cancer, and that she would use this as an opportunity for other women to see and to make sure that other women received the health care and didn’t put things off. I know that today I join my colleagues in extending our deepest sympathies to her family, to her husband Chuck, to her staff, to her friends. I appreciate the opportunity to stand here and to honor my good friend. I know that we will all miss her greatly.”