Remembering Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Jackie Walorski was two weeks away from her 59th birthday, working to secure her sixth consecutive term in Congress in November.
She lived much the same way she died—on the move, meeting and greeting constituents.
A day ago, a post on her Facebook page showed her at the McDonald’s in Winamac. A week ago, she was shown visiting the Elkhart County Fair.
“Just heart broken and devastated by, you know, kind of the news,” said South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO, Jeff Rea. “Jackie was, you know, a tireless worker and just, you know, cared a lot about this area and it’s such a shock, and surprise to everybody.”
Walorski started out as a local television news reporter from 1989 through 1991. She went on to hold several jobs in higher education before finding a home in the Indiana House of Representatives in 2004.
There, she quickly earned a reputation as a forceful advocate. “She was a bulldog, sort of fighting for the folks back home, said Jeff Rea. I’m glad to have had a front row seat to see some of that.”
When Walorski decided to try national politics, she handpicked her statehouse successor.
Tim Wesco was just 25 years old at the time.
“Her passion was always something that inspired me, and when she decided to run for congress, in 2010, I wanted to continue that passion,” Rep. Wesco told 16 News Now.
“She was a huge influence in our community.”
Rep. Walorski lost her first bid for congress to Joe Donnelly in 2010, but she beat Brandon Mullen in 2012 and has held on to the seat ever since.
Congresswoman Walorski leaves behind her husband Dean Swihart, who is a music teacher in the Mishawaka schools.
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