Thursday, February 11, 2010

My friend and colleague, Ethie Weaver Radanovich, passed away last Thursday following a three-year battle with ovarian cancer. Ethie was such a vibrant force it's hard to imagine her gone, especially at the way-too-young age of 50.

Ethie was the person who found me when Woodward & McDowell was potentially hiring campaign staff in 1988. It didn't work out that time but I started working with Ethie in 1990 and we worked together for 18 years until a couple of years ago when she left to focus on her health.

W&M has lots of strong personalities, but Ethie's was indomitable. She was the bright center of every room she walked into -- but at the same time she always made sure no one at a party was ignored. She treated being a hostess as a real responsibility.

In 1996 Ethie married Rep. George Radanovich (R-Mariposa) and began a new phase of her life as a political spouse. (Dolly Madison would have been impressed, I'm sure.)

Here are two quick stories to illustrate what Ethie was like:

Somewhere around 10 years ago I was in Washington, DC for work and my friend, Jim Brown, and I made plans to see the Stephen Sondheim musical "Bounce" at the Kennedy Center. It turns out Ethie and George had tickets to the same performance. When Ethie found that out she insisted that Jim and I meet up with her and George in the "Bird Room" at the Kennedy Center during intermission. I didn't know what that was, but I said, "OK."

Turns out the Bird Room is the super-VIP Lounge at the Kennedy Center reserved for Members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, Supreme Court Justices, etc. Jim and I approached the door with some trepidation. I gave the receptionist my name and she replied, "Oh yes, Ethie is waiting for you," and we were whisked inside. We spent intermission examining the porcelain birds that line the shelves of the Bird Room giving it it's name. I remember Ethie introduced Jim and me to the Director of the National Parks Service. Just another night at the theater with Ethie.

In 1998 Ethie gave birth to her son, King Radanovich. It just so happens I was in Washington, DC for work that day. Ethie and I had made prior plans to meet up but when I learned she was going into labor I certainly understood if our plans were cancelled. But Ethie insisted we keep our scheduled visit and suggested I come visit her at the hospital. We had a lovely chat, in between her contractions. As they got stronger and more frequent it clearly was time for me to go. But before she would let me go Ethie made sure I knew about the latest restaurants in DC and that I was all set for dinner that night. Talk about making the other person feel taken care of, even when no one would expect it!
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