Pelosi Remarks at Memorial Service of Cokie Roberts

September 21, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Pelosi delivered a eulogy at the memorial service for Cokie Roberts. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Archbishop Gregory, church and community leaders, distinguished guests, members of the press, my colleagues – Members of the Congress – friends and especially family: good morning.

Thank you, Steve, Rebecca and Lee, for the honor of joining you, in this historic and holy place, to express our love for Cokie: such a special, special, singular soul.

Cokie Roberts is a national treasure, whose passing is a great loss for America. 

But for Cokie, it was always, always about family, family, family.   She told everyone about the love she has for Steve—and the love and pride she takes in her beautiful children and grandchildren.

She loved you all so much.  May it be a comfort to Cokie’s family – I think nearly a 100 – Boggs, Roberts, Sigmunds – more than 100 here today and so many others that have come to share in this extraordinary outpouring of love and remembrance. 

Many honors are afforded to Members of Congress, especially to the Speaker, but nothing surpasses the honor of paying tribute to Cokie’s memory.

Today is a sad day for America. The passing of Cokie Roberts is a great official loss for our nation, and a deep personal loss for all who were blessed to call Cokie a friend.

For me, it is official, and also deeply personal.  Our two families share a friendship that spans generations.  Our parents had come to the Congress at around the same time, when my father Tommy D’Alesandro and her father, the legendary Hale Boggs, who would become the Democratic Leader of the House and he lovingly represented Louisiana while they served in the House together.  So, our parents – or, at least I think – that’s why Cokie was always so protective of me, many years later.

And, how wonderful that our family tradition of friendship continues into another generation.  I met Cokie when my husband, Paul, was at school with her brother, Tommy, as classmates at Georgetown.  Cokie was younger, but she had star power even then.

And now, that familial tradition of friendship continues in the third generation, carried on by my son, Paul, went to school with Lee, and he admires him greatly.  And, he is good friends with Lee and with Becca. 

I like to tell this story because it’s a little embarrassing, but when Paul and Becca lived in California, and Dan remembers this – as new parents, she lived in San Francisco, and when she had the twins, Paul passed himself off as family to be the first in the room to congratulate Dan and Becca.


He thought it was great.  I’m not sure what Becca thought of it.


That was the first introduction to the next generation.

Cokie was raised in a family that believed that public service was a noble calling.  Cokie acted upon those values throughout her entire life.  

It is so fitting that we are here, in the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle because Cokie lived her life, and the life of her family was always about living the Gospel of Matthew.

She said that she was the only one in her family who did not run for office, so she wanted journalism to be her public service.  And indeed, it was.  With the knowledge and understanding developed as a daughter of the Congress, she illuminated the workings of Congress in the fairest possible way, with respect for all views, for people all across America.

My Chief Deputy, Diane, was in a gift store in Hudson, Ohio this week – just to tell you – and was mentioning to the woman behind that counter that she was from Washington.  And, this woman in this store in Hudson, Ohio – the heartland of America – said, ‘We lost Cokie.’ We lost Cokie.  We lost Cokie. 

And that has been echoed across America.  The woman’s first response was one that was shared by others in the shop and, again, across America.  

Over five decades of celebrated journalism, her historic interviews and persistent pursuit of the unvarnished truth, as the Archbishop mentioned, enraptured and enlightened millions of Americans.

Her greatness was recognized with many awards, to name a few: the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award and Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism; she was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame; she was named one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting – in the history, not that year – in the history of broadcasting and she was declared a ‘living legend’ by the Library of Congress.  As I’ve said, to name a few of her awards.

Cokie was an American icon, who will never – who will forever be, she will forever be in the pantheon of the greatest professionals of her field.  

How blessed we were in Congress that she used her gifts to study and share America’s history and heritage, helping tell the full story of our nation.

Cokie’s brilliant reporting and writing shone a powerful spotlight on the unsung women heroes of American history whose stories had long gone untold.  Because of Cokie, the women who helped build and strengthen our nation are now taking their rightful place in our history books.

As Cokie shared the stories of the suffragists upon whose shoulders we stand, she empowered the next generation of women leaders to stand on her shoulders.  Her work to chronicle America’s history helped shape its future, inspiring countless young women and girls to follow in her groundbreaking footsteps, and to give them the confidence to do so.

And isn’t it just like Cokie to have all women as her ushers, and the nuns to be offering the gifts, today.

Again, we were fortunate in Congress, this May, to honor Cokie in the Capitol as she shared her stories of the suffragists on the day that we marked the Centennial of the House passing the 19th Amendment.  She was accompanied by Becca, an author in her own right.

Cokie said, that day, ‘It’s important to be celebrating these stories today, because it’s important to know them and for the next generation to know them.’  And we watched Cokie beam with pride as she brought Becca forward to speak, telling us, ‘My own next generation has taken on the task.’

Throughout her life, Cokie mentored and motivated so many: leading by the power of her example, and by the personal interest and encouragement she gave countless young women.  Her life and leadership took our nation closer to its fundamental, Founding ideal of equality.

It was in her DNA. I, among many, had the privilege of serving with Lindy Boggs – the gracious, genteel Lindy Boggs – in the Congress.   We learned from her in Congress.  We grieved from her – with her with Barbara’s passing.  We named a room for her in the Capitol.  And I had the privilege of speaking at her funeral service in New Orleans.

Years ago, Lindy said to me: ‘Darlin’, know your power and use it.’  What Lindy wants, Lindy gets.  So, here I am.


Cokie knew her power, and she used it to forge a better America.  We will dearly miss her great spirit of generosity and goodness, radiating joy to all.  We’ll always remember, always remember, the 21st of September, when we said goodbye to her.

Thank you, Steve, for sharing Cokie with us.  In her own words, in Cokie’s own words, she said, ‘I would never have had the confidence to do what I do without Steven’s encouragement and support.  And none of it would be worth it without him.’

May it be a comfort to Steve, to Becca, to Lee, to Regan, Hale, Cecilia, Claiborne, Jack and Roland; and to Cokie’s entire family that so many people mourn your loss and are praying for you at this sad time. 

God truly blessed America with Cokie’s life and legacy.

Thank you, all.