2008-11-27 / Local & State

Late Lieutenant Governor Mourned At Capitol

By Marc Levy ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Catherine Baker Knoll, Pennsylvania's first female lieutenant governor, was a tough-as-steel woman who broke barriers and defied odds, and encouraged others to do the same, Sen. Hillary Clinton told a Capitol memorial ceremony Friday.

"I respected and admired her as a pioneer and a path breaker for women in politics,'' Clinton said to several hundred mourners. "She said it best herself that she was a steel woman from the Steel City, and she was as tough as steel when she needed to be.''

The mourners watched as an honor guard brought in Knoll's flagdraped casket to be displayed in the ornate Rotunda - just the second person believed to receive that honor in the current Capitol - and listened to tributes by the New York senator, Gov. Ed Rendell, incoming Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati and U.S. Rep. John Murtha.

Dignitaries, administration officials and family members sat in rows of chairs, while onlookers crowded the Rotunda's balconies.

A veteran of numerous statewide campaigns, Knoll tirelessly greeted voters on the campaign trail, charmed tour groups in the Capitol and pressed for a more compassionate government, they said. She especially advocated, they said, for chil- dren, military veterans and the elderly, and thought of all Pennsylvanians as her family.

Clinton recalled Knoll joining her at Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day parade during Clinton's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and being amazed at how many people she knew along the route, and how many knew her.

"I thought I was working really hard and Catherine was like nudging me: 'You missed somebody there, you've gotta go back there, what did you say to that person, here's a veteran, a really important veteran, you've got to talk to him,''' Clinton said. "I was so exhausted.''

Clinton also brought laughter and applause when she kidded that Knoll would be organizing heaven, and encouraging St. Peter to let women have more of a role. Rendell recalled that Knoll, who grew up just outside Pittsburgh, would send a suggestion to his office at least once a day to improve government or the appearance of the Capitol.

"She was relentless,'' Rendell said. "It's been nine days now since Catherine passed, and my guess is that Catherine has been relentless with St. Peter.''

Knoll, 78, was diagnosed in July with neuroendocrine cancer, and she died Nov. 12. Her casket will be on display in the Capitol Rotunda through Saturday afternoon.

She ran for office so many times - 13 in all, including primary and general elections - and so successfully, Rendell said, that she tallied more votes than anyone else in Pennsylvania history - more than 15.4 million.

The woman affectionately known as CBK grew up around politics as the daughter of McKees Rocks Mayor Nicholas Baker.

She served two four-year terms as state treasurer, winning statewide elections in 1988 and 1992. In 2002, she beat out eight other candidates in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, and went on to win the office twice as Rendell's running mate.

She lost three races for treasurer and one primary run for governor. Just two days before her death, she wrote a letter to Murtha to congratulate him on his re-election in a tough campaign that, she noted, some television commentators speculated he might lose.

"Congratulations my dear friend, there's something soundly sweet about winning when others say you can't,'' Murtha said, reading her letter. "You and I both know something about that.''

Knoll's casket will be on display Sunday at St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh. A funeral Mass and divine liturgy will be held at the cathedral Tuesday. Graveside services and interment will be private.

She is survived by four children. Her husband, Charles Knoll, died in 1987.

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