ALEXANDRIA, Va. — “Her passion was contagious and energizing.”
That’s how Mame Reiley was memorialized Tuesday at her hometown church in Mount Vernon, by friends and loved ones who each said she inspired them to keep up the political fight to make the world better.
The Virginia Democrats most closely associated with the longtime campaign strategist, Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. James P. Moran, sat in the third row in tribute, but they were hardly the only lawmakers cramming the pews of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church. It was perhaps fitting that the service boasted at least three of the men vying to replace Moran in a Democratic primary being held the very day of her funeral.
The official license plates in the overflowing parking lot foreshadowed the crowd of city council members, former congressmen and state representatives in attendance — including former Republican state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, married to ex-Rep. Tom Davis , as well as former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell, under indictment on federal corruption charges, joined others in receiving communion at the Mass. He told me he is going through “hell,” but wanted to celebrate the woman he’d known most of his life, having grown up on the same street as the Reiley family.
The politicians were but one testament to Mame being what so many dubbed, simply, “a force of nature.”
I was there because of everyone else. I’d heard stories about Mame from my friends in Virginia politics long before I had the pleasure of meeting her or hearing her hearty laugh.
And there they were, sprinkled among the elected officials — the state government workers, congressional aides and political staffers whose lives Mame touched in ways she may never have even realized.