After 35 years in office, Indiana's longest-serving female state representative in state history has passed away. Republican Phyllis Pond of New Haven in northeast Indiana died Sunday at the age of 82. “Today, the State of Indiana mourns the loss of a leader and a friend to all Hoosiers. Phyllis was a revered colleague, a strong voice for her district and a compassionate conservative who always stood by her principles,” said House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis). Pond was the first female lawmaker to earn a seat in the front row in the House Chamber, which is reserved for House leaders or representatives with the most seniority.
Pond was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and announced at the end of August that she would be resigning her seat. Pond worked as a kindergarten teacher prior to being elected to the legislature in 1978, and she eventually authored the Primetime Education Bill that capped kindergarten through third grade classroom sizes at 18. Reminiscent of her days in the classroom, and for her last few years as a legislator, Representative Pond cast her votes with a ruler – which also allowed her to vote without reaching across the desk to push the buttons, "an idea which she couldn’t believe took her 30 years to think of," said a statement from Bosma's office. “Phyllis has been a steadfast leader in our caucus and has forged a new path for women legislators in Indiana. Her dedication and service will continue to be fondly remembered by all. She will undoubtedly be missed,” said Speaker Bosma. Bosma's office says Pond was also very passionate about giving back to those who have served our country. During the holidays, she always encouraged people to send cards and words of encouragement to the service men and women fighting overseas.
Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement regarding the passing of former State Representative Phyllis Pond yesterday. “A devoted public servant for 35 years, Phyllis Pond led with integrity and passion, consistently placing the needs of those in her district before her own and influencing improvements to education for all Hoosiers. It is with heavy hearts that the First Lady and I offer our deepest condolences and prayers to her beloved family as we join them in mourning the loss of this extraordinary Hoosier leader.”
Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) made the following statement today regarding the passing of former State Representative Phyllis Pond: “Phyllis Pond was an historic leader for Allen County and for the people of Indiana. She was one of the first women to serve in the State Legislature from our area, and she served with great effectiveness, passion and distinction for 35 years. She never lost her zeal for the job, nor her focus on improving the lives of the people of our state. It's hard to imagine our delegation without Phyllis. We will miss her greatly.”