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Rep. Jackie Walorski remembered for her faith, conviction at funeral service

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski
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U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski

Family, friends and colleagues remembered Indiana U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Jimtown) for her faith and character at her funeral service Thursday.

“Jackie was a no-nonsense, get-it-done, move-it-or-lose-it woman of strength and intense integrity,” Missouri U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin) said.

Walorski had represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. She and three others died in an Elkhart County car crash last week.

Speakers at the service mourned the suddenness of Walorski’s death, including U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“Like you, I was not ready — nor was I prepared — for that phone call,” McCarthy said. “Shocked. Angered. Bewilderment.”

Others who knew Walorski — including Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb — remembered her for her high spirits and strong convictions.

“When people from afar think about what makes Indiana so strong, they might reflexively go to our steel, or our limestone,” he said. “I think about Jackie, and I think about Jackie’s steel spine.”

Walorski was born in South Bend in 1963. A graduate of Riley High School, she attended Liberty University and ultimately graduated from Taylor University with a degree in communications and public administration.

She served three terms in the Indiana House before her election to Congress in 2012.

Her career before Congress included stints as a reporter for WSBT-TV, an independent missionary in Romania, and director of the St. Joseph County Humane Society.

“To tell you the truth, Jackie never really had a job. She always had a purpose and a mission,” McCarthy said.

The crash that killed Walorski also killed her district director, Zachery Potts, her communications director, Emma Thomson, and the driver of the other vehicle, Edith Schmucker.

Walorski’s burial was accompanied by a three-rifle volley and a rendition of taps.

“Jackie is not dead the way you would imagine. Right now, she’s more alive than all of us together in this room,” Walorski’s husband, Dean Swihart, said. “Right now, she knows fully the things that we’re having trouble to comprehend.”

A special election to fill Walorski’s Congressional seat will be held Nov. 8, the same day as the general election. The Indiana Republican Party will hold caucuses Saturday, Aug. 20, to select candidates for the ballot.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.