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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 4, 2002

Readers pay tribute to Patsy Mink

Mink was only one who tried to help

Several years ago, people in Hawai'i suffering from a debilitating illness were facing increases in their injectable medications from $5 to $7 per month to $5 to $7 per day. When letters were written to our representatives in Washington, D.C., only one took the time to write to Kaiser to try to stop what we felt was discrimination.

That one person was Patsy Mink, and although it didn't stop the insurance company from raising its cost, we at least felt we had someone on our side. She will surely be missed.

As far as the state thinking about not just one but two special elections at a cost to taxpayers of $2 million to $4 million, Mink would be rolling over in her grave to see this hard-earned money of ours being wasted. The state needs to show us that someone in the halls of the Capitol has some common sense and spend this money on things like books for our kids.

Wake up, you clowns!

Bob Martin

Mink was truly in a league of her own

I had the opportunity of sitting with Patsy Mink over lunch in March in the Congressional Dining Room to discuss issues affecting our Hawaiian Healthcare Systems.

Rep. Mink was full of spirit and patriotism, supporting the Democratic Party with a passion. She made a difference in Washington for Hawai'i — for us — and opened the doors for Asian women in politics. She would not have done it any other way than as a Democrat: always willing to hear what issues are at the forefront of our community, to represent our views and our problems, and to make considerations to get us what we needed when we needed it.

If you had something to say, she would make the time to listen and figure out how to better the situation.

It was clear to me by the end of that lunch that this was an amazing and brilliant political force for Hawai'i. I don't think anyone can really ever replace Rep. Mink because she was truly in a league of her own.

Elissa Tajon

Patsy championed civil rights, equality

Patsy Mink was a unique and special person, a strong advocate for working people and poor people, for women, for immigrants, for the poor.

She also went to bat for her constituents, supported by her wonderful staff.

She helped our daughter, Lia, when she had problems with the Peace Corps in distant Kyrgyzstan.

Patsy's death is a great loss — especially now as Bush & Co. beat the drums of war and attempt major assaults on vital civil liberties. Patsy championed civil rights and equality for all.

We must all work harder to carry on her legacy by opposing governmental encroachments and continuing the struggle for freedom, justice and peace, not only for Americans but for all the people of our world.

Condolences to Patsy's husband, John, and all her family, staff and supporters.

Patsy made a mark, not only on our society and our history, but in our hearts. We will miss her.

John and Lucy Witeck

Patsy made world a better place

When I got the phone call that Patsy Mink passed away last Saturday, like so many, my heart sank. After all, how many heroes do we get in a lifetime? Saturday, I lost one of mine.

Patsy Mink gave me my first "real" job out of college. She took a chance and brought me onto her campaign staff back in 1994 to manage her campaign office — a modest little office on Uluniu Street where I'd start every morning with a carton of POG as I combed through the newspapers from around the state.

No matter what one felt of her political beliefs, there is no question that she was the hardest-working member of Congress, and the people of Hawai'i were fortunate to have had such a devoted and tireless advocate and representative.

I don't know if the people of Hawai'i always recognized just how much work Congresswoman Mink put in each day on their behalf. It is no exaggeration when I say she worked seven days a week, and 12-hour days were the norm.

She wasn't in Congress to get on "Meet the Press" or "Crossfire" or "Larry King Live"; she was there for the people who elected her. While she was a pioneer on so many fronts and her name is often followed by the phrase "the first ... " she was above all a servant of the people of Hawai'i.

When I say I lost a hero Saturday, I know that's not entirely true. I know she will always be with us, so long as I, and the many others whose lives have been influenced by her, are able to live up to the standards she set as an individual, as a member of the community and as a public servant. May her legacy forever be reflected in ourselves and the choices we make for our children, our communities and our future.

Mahalo, Patsy, for making our world a better place and for making me a better person.

Justin Leach
Long Beach, Calif.

We must continue Mink's election goal

Hawai'i citizens should honor Patsy Mink by preserving her legacy in Congress and by fighting for national causes. We must vote for Mink in November.

The surest way to advance her noble causes is to ensure that her successor is a liberal Democrat. The surest way to do that is to vote for her in November and then elect a like-minded champion in the special election to follow.

We must not forget that Hawai'i's election is crucial for the entire nation. A vote for Patsy is a vote to prevent Tom Delay (arch-conservative, Louisiana) from becoming majority leader in the House of Representatives after Dick Armey (arch-conservative, Texas) retires.

Patsy was working for a Democratic takeover of Congress, and it is up to us to help her succeed, despite her untimely passing. Let's continue to support her causes.

John Cole
Mountain View, Big Island

Patsy's memory will live on and on

I loved Patsy — she just didn't know how much. I hope she finally gets my message. I have never doubted her statesmanship and will go on supporting her wherever she may be.

Tonight I experienced the most phenomenal and electrifying moment. When KHON-TV announced Patsy's passing on the 6 o'clock news, it closed its program in her memory with my favorite song, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I had goose bumps all over, as tears kept rolling down my cheeks.

We have so much to thank Patsy for, including her vision and tireless efforts in bringing about women's sports to the UH program. Without her, my granddaughter, Ashley, would not be enjoying volleyball as much as she is today on the UH team.

By now, I'm sure Patsy has met up with my late husband, Henry, and may even join him above the scoreboard at the Stan Sheriff Center where he's keeping an eye on Ashley. As he would say, "I'll be watching you from above."

I still remember the night of his 60th birthday party where Patsy stood on the podium and said, "We love you, Henry," and continued her story of their Kaunoa and Maui High School days.

Patsy's memory will live on and on.

Jane Watanabe
Pearl City

Mink worked tirelessly on behalf of the people

Patsy Mink was a colleague and long-time ally of my father, former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Menor. They frequently collaborated in their work of building the Democratic Party.

And as colleagues at the Legislature, they stood in their work together, fighting the good fight on behalf of the working people of Hawai'i. He often spoke about her at our home with great admiration.

When I entered public service, I, too, became a great admirer of her tireless efforts on behalf of the people of our state. Over the years, she provided invaluable advice and counsel to me on numerous issues I faced as an elected official. And I will always be grateful that I could turn to her for guidance.

Like thousands of people throughout our Islands, I felt a combination of pain and emptiness when I learned of her death. I also know we will feel her absence not just now, but in the coming months and years when we need leadership on causes she championed so well.

My prayers are with her family during this difficult period.

Sen. Ron Menor

Rep. Mink used power to improve lives of all

One of the wisest and most powerful people I have ever known once remarked to me that "the only legitimate use of power is to improve the situation of those without it." Surely, such an attitude is the soul of democracy. Surely such an attitude ought to be embraced by those officials elected by us and, thereby, collectively entrusted with a power inaccessible to us individually.

However that ought to be, the only elected official I have ever known who truly lived that creed was Congresswoman Patsy Mink.

It was not an attitude she adopted as an election approached. One had only to watch her and listen to her to know that it was etched as deeply in her soul as her love for her state and her country.

I came to know her over the course of several years as she responded promptly and completely on behalf of my son when the child support enforcement agencies in two states responded in ways that seemed to belie their common name. She responded as a member of Congress and she responded as a mother. Without conditions.

I don't think there is any adult who does not recognize the temptations of power. I don't think there is any adult who does not recognize when others have succumbed to those temptations. When it happens to an elected official, public service becomes self-service no matter how anyone attempts to disguise it.

Rep. Mink resisted those temptations. She voted her conscience even when her conscience wasn't saying what was popular. And she spoke her conscience. Even power could not compromise her integrity. And more, even the possibility of losing her power could not make her compromise her integrity.

And she worked and worked and worked to improve the circumstances of the least powerful among us.

And she did that work with an immediately recognizable authentic concern. In all the dimensions of my connection to her — as one person to another person, as one mother to another mother, as one woman to another, more powerful woman, as one resident and voter of Hawai'i County to an elected official, as one resident voter of the United States to a senior member of the House of Representatives — I feel an incalculable loss.

But her example remains. It is a hard-won example so substantial and of such stature that it will cast a shadow that the rest of us must measure ourselves by. May we do that with gratitude, with grace and with humility.

Jane Calfee