Remembering Louise

By on April 24, 2018

Reflections on the Life of Louise McIntosh Slaughter

A Celebration of the Life of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, a United States Representative from New York from 1987 until her death in 2018, was held on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 11AM, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

Seats in the Eastman Theatre were occupied by Congress members and staff from over 15 states, from both sides of the aisle. They flew to Rochester on two jet planes from Washington to pay their respects to Louise Slaughter. The memorial celebration was also attended by many of Louise’s contemporaries in Washington including Congressman John Lewis, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former United States President Bill Clinton was in attendance.

Louise Slaughter’s family, personal friends and staff members filled many of the seats. The remainder of the seats in the 2,500 capacity hall were available to Louise’s constituents, the people she represented for over 30 years in the Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls area. Community members began lining up early on a cold Rochester morning for the first-come, first-served tickets.

The Service was led by several local Interfaith leaders including Rev. Ruth Ferguson, Rev. Dr. Marlowe V.N. Washington, Rabbi Debbi Till, Rev. Bob Werth, and Muhammad Shafiq, Ph.D.

Music for the celebration was performed by the Eastman Wind Ensemble Harmonie, Eastman Chorale, AKOMA African American Women’s Gospel Choir, the Anthem, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” was performed by soloists Brianna J. Robinson and Veena Akama-Makia with Wilson Sutherland on piano, and fiddle/folk band The Ginger Majority performed the musical interlude during the closing Spiritual song “I’ll Fly Away” with soloist, Shelly Fowler.

The following reflections on the life of Louise Slaughter were shared with the gathering. 

Congressman John Lewis

Congressman Lewis and Louise were in the same Freshmen Orientation class when they started serving in Congress. They were elected together, and friends from the start.

Lewis said, “Louise Slaughter was one-of-a-kind. Generous, friendly and warm. She was determined and stood up for her beliefs, she was strong, and she was solid, and she didn’t take any ‘stuff’.”

“We shared a love of the arts and Louise especially loved music.”

“Louise loved people. She was a champion. She believed deep down in her heart that government can do good for the people. She never gave up. For her, work was a calling, a mission. She was our leader, our friend. She was my sister, that is why I call her Sister Louise.”

In 2016 Louise invited Congressman Lewis to visit her district.

“She took me to a church Frederick Douglass attended. She was very proud of the history of her district.”

She took him to the motherhouse of retired Sisters of St. Joseph. Congressman Lewis said, “It was there that I met two nuns who had taken care of us when we were hurt in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Looking back at that moment demonstrated to me the true nature of Louise this beautiful, unbelievable, gifted, loving sister.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Democratic Leader Pelosi appointed Louise Slaughter as the first woman chair of the Rules Committee. They worked closely together on many bills before Congress.

Pelosi said, “Louise felt a deep pride in representing this area.”

“It was important to her to mentor young women staff and other members of Congress. She encouraged women to know their power.”

“She was the first woman chair of the Rules Committee. She was a patriot who fought to advance and expand freedom in America. A crusader for ethics and honoring the public trust.”

“A micro biologist and a visionary. She was a women of grit and grace. Thank you to Louise’s family for sharing this beautiful woman with the world.”

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary Clinton and Louise Slaughter worked together on many advancements for the State of New York.

Clinton said, “We gather here for an extraordinary outpouring of love, love for Louise. She got into politics to make a difference. We need more Louise Slaughters today, more than ever.”

“Nothing could stop Louise once she made up her mind, fierce and determined yet savvy. Her opponents liked and respected her. There was no one better to have in your corner than Louise.”

“What was so incredible about Louise was she was always looking to the future. In the midst of it all she always supported science, facts, reason and evidence in all of her decisions.”

“Advancing the rights of women and girls was a big part of her life. She was proud of the history of her district in the role of the Women’s Movement. She fought for generations to come, the future. She supported the history of the Women’s Movement and knew that they were right all those years ago to fight for equality.”

“She encouraged everyone to fight for what you know in your heart is right. She served the community, doing it with a sense of humor, respect and decency. Louise, you will be dearly missed but never forgotten.”

Fran Weisberg

In 1986 Fran Weinberg was Louise Slaughter’s first campaign manager. They met when they served together in support of a local grassroots movement.

Weisberg said, “Southern charm, a brilliant mind and a fierce desire to help people much less fortunate than herself were the traits of Louise Slaughter. She never backed down from a challenge. What drove Louise was her personal integrity. She truly helped people and everyone loved her.”

“She especially loved campaigning door to door. People in every walk of life learned that Louise was for them. The most amazing thing about Louise is that she never changed in the 32 years she served, she never forgot who brought her to Washington.”

“She always remained humble. She put concern for others above herself. We can all strive to achieve to be more like Louise by caring for one another.”

Amy Slaughter – Daughter

“It is such an honor to be here and to know how many people cared about her and loved her. I want you to know how important that is to our family. Thank you so much.”

“It is hard to sum up the life of someone as big as my mother. She was a coal miner’s daughter. I want people to remember that she came from humble roots but was outspoken.”

“She was a no-nonsense person who was very funny. She traveled the world but always had time for her family. I’m certain that she will be remembered as the amazing person that she was.”

“Our family takes great comfort in knowing that she was loved.”

Michael Minerva – Son-in-Law

“Her presence in our children’s lives helped shaped their lives. She fought tirelessly for the ideals and causes she believed in. Empathy, standing up firmly for what you believe in and never giving up, I consider these to be the gifts Louise left for our children and all of us.”

Lauren Secatore – Granddaughter

I’ve always thought about her as my Grandma, the Congresswoman. It was not a sacrifice to share her with everyone, it was an honor. She taught me to be strong. It is up to all of us to carry on her legacy through a life of action.”

Daniel Secatore – Grandson

“I am going to miss her. She lived a great life. None of us were ready to see her go, and I don’t believe she was done fighting. It isn’t our choice that she is gone, but we have a choice to honor her for the rest of our own lives. She took so much joy from everything in this world. She had joy and pride in her job and in her role in our American democracy. She loved the world so much that she couldn’t help but to fight for it. That is how we can honor her by fighting for our country and being responsible for it and to try to see the world as she did. That will be the best way honor her.”

Photos by Karen Fien


Congressman John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton

Amy Slaughter - Daughter

Amy Slaughter – Daughter

Lauren Secatore - Granddaughter

Lauren Secatore – Granddaughter

Daniel Secatore - Grandson

Daniel Secatore – Grandson

The Anthem, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” was performed by soloists Brianna J. Robinson and Veena Akama-Makia.

The Anthem, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” was performed by soloists Brianna J. Robinson and Veena Akama-Makia.



Religious Leaders

Religious Leaders