The LuLac Edition #637, Nov. 12th, 2008
CATHERINE BAKER KNOLL
The state of Pennsyvania's first female Ltn. Governor passed away tonight from cancer. Catherine Baker Knoll was 78 and serving in her second term under the Rendell administration. I first heard about Knoll's battle with cancer from former Scranton Mayor Jim McNulty in the summer who called to check on my progress with this challenging disease. Knoll was hospitalized since August and fought a valiant battle. Knoll died about 6 p.m. at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, where she was recovering from treatment for neuroendocrine cancer. She was surrounded by her family, according to the Governor's Office. Knoll announced she was suffering from the disease, which affects cells that work to keep many of the body's hormonal and digestive functions in check. She returned to work for a day, presiding over the Senate at the start of its fall session, but she looked drawn and tired. Tonight, Governor Rendell who inherited her as a running mate in 2002 said, "Today we mourn the passing of one of the strongest, most dedicated public servants in Pennsylvania's history. Our thoughts and prayers are with Catherine's family. She will be deeply missed." Baker ran a spirited campaign for Ltn. Governor in 2002 beating all of her male rivals including now Senator Bob Casey's running mate (current Auditor General) Jack Wagner. Knoll will be replaced as lieutenant governor by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson). In his role, Scarnati will retain the role as president pro tempore as his predecessor Robert Jubelirer did in 2001 when Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker became governor when Gov. Tom Ridge left to become Homeland Security director. One of nine children, Knoll was born in McKees Rocks, a working-class community outside Pittsburgh. Her father served as Mayor of that town. Knoll's life was punctuated by public service. She was a schoolteacher and a businesswoman, and she served eight years as state treasurer (being the high vote getter in her re-election bid for Treasurer) before running for the number 2 post in 2002. Knoll's career had some bumps, she had her moments under the Rendell years once introducing the Guv as "Edward G. Robinson". She attended a military funeral and passed out business cards but even her defenders said that was an honest misconception because she handed those cards out as a gesture of help for the families attending the service. At the 2007 inaugural event, she brought up on stage a rambling Mickey Rooney who gave a speech that seemed to go on forever. But Knoll overcame these criticisms by constantly working the rooms, keeping in touch with party leaders and attending to vital part of the Rendell/Knoll base, senior citizens. Her death virtually insures Rendell will stay where he's at in Harrisburg and not take a job with the Obama administration. Funeral arrangements are incomplete. One thing is for sure though, Knoll made her mark in Pennsylvania political history. She will be missed.