Monday, November 07, 2016

RIP Janet Reno, Guest Post by John Kozyak

RIP Janet Reno, Guest Post by John Kozyak

Janet Reno passed away this morning after living with Parkinson’s Disease for more twenty years.  I had the privilege of being Janet’s friend and I am so grateful that I had a chance to say good-bye several times over the weekend.  Some said that she was enjoying all the love in her house, which had been built by her Mother. Others said she was waiting until Hilary was elected the first woman President and others acknowledged that this brave woman had never given in easily to anything in her 78 years.

The NY Times  already has an obituary online, which provides a glimpse into the public part of Janet’s life.  I particularly like Ms. Reno was never a natural fit in Washington’s backslapping, backstabbing culture.”  In this ugly election, this might be one of the best compliments for a strong, brave woman, who approached each day of her life wanting to do the right thing. She did  so much better  than the rest of us and  that is why she is legend to me and many.

I had no familiarity to Parkinson’s Disease when I first met Janet 40 years ago or when she was diagnosed in 1995, but I sure did after my Mother found out she had it about 14 years ago and my Father received the same news 3 years later. I will never forget telling Janet and having her comfort me. She gave her phone number for my Mother to call her. My Mother loved the photograph that Janet signed and loved her visits with her. Janet lived gracefully with Parkinson’s until fairly recently. She continued as the Attorney General and tried to beat Jeb Bush as Governor. She set an example for people living with Parkinson’s and she set an example for so many more to live life to the fullest , to be humble and to do the “right thing”.

She certainly set an example for women. After graduating from Harvard Law, she had difficulty even obtaining a legal job because of her gender and she went on to become the longest serving Attorney General in the United States. When she came to the Minority Mentoring Picnic, young women law students and everyone else loved being with her. She spoke often with encouragement and sincerity. I never heard her complain about the gender discrimination or her Parkinson’s.  

For the past 3-4 years, Janet has been the Honorary Chair of the National Parkinson Foundation’s Moving Day in Miami. She and her family joined with mine to form Team Kozyak & Reno, which usually had the most walkers. Moving Day will take place in Miami this Sunday, November 13th in Museum Park in Miami. Janet’s health did not permit her to attend last year, but I am positive her niece, Hunter and her daughters and other friends will join Janny in spirit.   I’d be honored if you’d walk with Team Kozyak& Reno this coming Sunday morning. This is not  a solicitation for donations, but more of a request for a group hug in honor of a wonderful woman. I am sharing two photos of Janet at Moving Day two years ago. I love the first one with her sister, Maggy.  Sorry that it doesn’t include Hunter’s face, but she is behind Janet.

I could not be more proud that the Reno family has been so supportive and welcoming.  I will never, ever forget sitting in Janet’s bedroom on Friday night while her sister, Maggy, her nephew , Doug, niece , Hunter, and several others recited long poems with such enthusiasm. I had learned that this was a family tradition when Janet’s brother, Mark, passed away 2 years ago. It was amazing. Yesterday, I barely missed a small group holding hands around Janet’s bed and singing “God Bless America”. It was not easy saying good-bye yesterday, but the love in the Reno home helped so much.

I don’t want to tell my Mother that Janet Reno has passed and think it is best to wait until I see her next week in St. Louis.




Anonymous said...

Very touching

Anonymous said...

Ms. Reno was my first boss after law school. I learned a great deal about integrity, hard work, and dedication from her.