Slaughter mourned by those she served
By SHERRY HALBROOK
When national leaders die, it’s usually a moment of national news, but rarely one of personal importance. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter is an exception.
At age 88, Slaughter was in her 16th two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives when she died March 16 after falling at her home in Washington. She represented New York Congressional District 25 that encompasses Rochester.
Rochester is the heart of PEF Region 3, and many of the union’s members and retirees knew Slaughter and worked with her on legislation and issues. For them the loss of this very experienced and capable lawmaker was personal.
PEF Executive Board member Randi DiAntonio has been a Region 3 activist for many years and she is among those who are grieved and saddened by this loss.
“Louise was a warm, funny and genuine lady, who was kind-hearted but tough as nails,” DiAntonio said.
Slaughter was a determined advocate and defender of government and public service, but she had no illusions that everyone shared her respect and appreciation.
“There are a lot of people in the United States that have just abject hate for the government,”
Slaughter said. She added that it is the duty of all who feel differently to convince the haters “this government is not their enemy.”
Slaughter was born in rural Kentucky, but moved to the Rochester area. She held degrees in microbiology and public health from the University of Kentucky, which became the framework for her strong interest in health related legislation in the House.
While legislation was her focus in Washington, Slaughter never lost sight of the needs of individual people in her district.
Maria Thomas Fisher, chief of staff at the Rochester and Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation, is one of those who saw how important that personal interest could be.
“In addition to being an extraordinary advocate for labor, on a personal level Louise helped and advocated for my family and my Ukrainian community,” Fisher wrote to members of the federation. “My
grandparents and aunts and uncles came to this country as refugees from Ukraine after being tortured in a Nazi slave-labor camp. When Ukrainians came to Rochester no banks would work with them. My aunt was able to start and grow the Ukrainian credit union thanks to the help of Louise Slaughter. Louise advocated for my community and my family at every opportunity she could. These last few years,
Congresswoman Slaughter had been helping Ukrainian veterans who were being severely injured by invading Russian forces and helped connect these veterans with services here.
“Each of us who knew her has a personal story of how she impacted our lives,” Fisher said.
“Congresswoman Louise Slaughter is irreplaceable. It is truly a loss for each of us and for our community as a whole. Yet, as her granddaughter Lauren so eloquently stated, the best way to honor Louise Slaughter’s legacy is to ensure her work lives on and to continue fighting for the issues she was so passionate about.”