Those who knew and worked with 2nd District U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski are remembering her for her kindness, passion and her willingness to fight for Hoosiers.
Walorski, 58, Elkhart, was killed Wednesday in a two-vehicle crash on Ind. 19, along with Zachery Potts, 27, Mishawaka, 2nd District chairman and St. Joe County Republican chairman; and Emma Thomson, 28, Washington, D.C., Walorski’s communications director. The sole occupant of the other vehicle, Edith Schmucker, 56, Nappanee, also was killed.
Kosciusko County Republican Party Chairman Mike Ragan said he counted Walorski and Potts as good friends.
“Jackie was a great friend to Kosciusko County and the Republican Party and its residents. Replacing her will be very difficult. I was very fortunate to see a lot of her. It’s an unbelievable loss,” he said.
Under redistricting, Walorski represented all of Kosciusko County except Turkey Creek, Tippecanoe and Washington townships, which are represented by Congressman Jim Banks.
Potts was a great guy and a great friend, Ragan said. Potts often helped the GOP in Kosciusko County and recently met with the Kosciusko County Young Republicans. Replacing Potts also will be very difficult for the 2nd District and St. Joe Republicans.
Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer offered his condolences to the families of Walorski, Potts and Thomson. Walorski and her staff had spent some time in Warsaw with local business and community leaders on Wednesday.
A statement from Kosciusko County Democrats said, “The shocking news about the tragic death of anyone in our community is always sad and distressing to the loved ones they leave behind. Our hearts and minds are with Rep. Jackie Walorski’s spouse and loved ones, as well as her staff that worked with her every day.
“We also extend our condolences to the other members that were also lost with Rep. Walorski as well and send their families our deepest sympathies.”
Banks said, “My heart is broken for Dean, the Walorski family and all who knew and loved my friend Jackie. Jackie was a true public servant – selfless, humble and compassionate. She was a devout Christian, a passionate advocate for life and a leader among Hoosier representatives. Everything Jackie did was to serve others. Before Congress, she served in the Indiana Statehouse and she and her husband served as missionaries in Romania where they provided impoverished children food and medical care. From my first day in Congress, Jackie showed me kindness and grace. She had a heart of gold, and I will miss her dearly. Please join Amanda and I in praying for Jackie’s loved ones and the friends and family of her two staff members who also lost their lives in this tragic accident.”
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb directed flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Walorski immediately until the date of her burial. He also asked businesses and residents in Indiana to lower their flags.
In a statement, he said, “Janet and I are devastated by the tragic loss of our friend Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and her two staffers – Emma Thomson and Zach Potts – earlier today. Our broken hearts go out to her husband Dean and the entire family during this time of unimaginable mourning. At every level of public service Jackie was known to be a positive force of nature, a patriot and a relentless policy maker with an unwavering loyalty to her constituents. Jackie’s record of achievement is impossible to quantify. She will be remembered as a fighter with a huge heart that always went the extra mile and I’ll treasure the times we walked a few of those together. Every waking moment for her was energetically devoted to improving the lives of all Hoosiers better, the epitome of a good and faithful servant. She, and the example she set, will be missed every day forward.”
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch shared this statement: “I was shocked and heartbroken when I received the news today about the tragic death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. Jackie and I served together in the Indiana House of Representatives, and she was a fighter for her constituents and conservative Hoosier values. My heart goes out to her husband, Dean, and the rest of her family and friends. She will be deeply missed.”
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said, “Jackie Walorski was a woman who stood strong in her values, cared for her family and served Hoosiers well. I have many great memories and stories of our time together in Congress and on the campaign trail. In addition to everything else, she had a great sense of humor. She will be missed. Our sympathies also go out to the families of Zach Potts and Emma Thomson who died in the same tragic accident. Hoosiers across the state mourn the loss of these public servants.”
U.S. Sen. Todd Young said, “I’m truly devastated. Jackie loved Hoosiers and devoted her life to fighting for them. I’ll never forget her spirit, her positive attitude and most importantly her friendship. All of Indiana mourns her passing, along with the tragic deaths of her staff Emma Thomson and Zach Potts. Please join me in praying for their families in this difficult time.”
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun said, “Jackie Walorski was a tireless advocate for the Hoosiers she represented and a kind friend to everyone she met. She faithfully served her constituents and her Lord and Savior, and I trust she is now wrapped in the arms of Christ. This is a devastating loss, and we grieve for her two staff members – Zach and Emma – who had their whole lives ahead of them. Please join me and Maureen in praying for the families and friends of those lost on this tragic day for Indiana.”
State Sen. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) offered the following statement: “I am shaken and deeply sorry to hear about the passing of Representative Walorski, Zachery Potts and Emma Thompson. Rep. Walorski has represented our community for a decade, and was always fiercely dedicated to her constituents and the betterment of Indiana. My thoughts and condolences are with her loved ones as well as the loved ones of Mr. Potts and Ms. Thompson.”
Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan said, “I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Jackie Walorski. Jackie loved Hoosiers, her country and served with honor in Congress. My prayers are with her family as well as the families of Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson.”
State Sen. Stacey Donato (R-Logansport) made the following statement: “I am shocked and heartbroken by the tragic death of my friend, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. Jackie was a devoted legislator and cared deeply for the Hoosiers she represented. She assisted me on many occasions to care for our constituents. She was dedicated to the betterment of our community, leading with passion through her many years of public service. Her loss will be felt throughout our state.
“I am truly grateful to have known her and to have considered her a friend, and I will miss her dearly. Jackie’s family and the families of the three other victims of this horrible accident – Emma Thomson, Zachery Potts and Edith Schmucker – are in my prayers.”
State Sen. Blake Doriot said, “Jackie Walorski and I have been friends for years. I have always looked up to her ability to stand her ground on tough topics, and I highly respect the legislation she worked on during her time in Congress. She was an excellent representative for Indiana’s 2nd District of the U.S. House of Representatives, and she will be missed by all. I grieve with her friends and family, as well as with the families of Emma Thomson and Zachery Potts. I will be keeping all those involved in the crash in my prayers.”
Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said, “I am shocked and very saddened by the sudden passing of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and her two staffers, Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson, in a car accident today in Elkhart County.
“Congresswoman Walorski was such a pleasure to work with – both in her tenure at the Indiana Statehouse and in Congress. She always fought hard for her constituents and was a trusted ally in advocating for policies to better the lives of Hoosiers. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce sends its sincere condolences to the Congresswoman’s family and the families of all lost today.”