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Georgia political world mourns death of longtime House aide

The state Capitol is mourning the death of Elaine Myers, a longtime House employee.

The Sharpsburg resident retired from the General Assembly in 2014, but returned to work part time in the House majority leader's office during the 2015 session. She then worked as one of the page desk supervisors in the 2016 session, but illness prevented her from returning to the page desk in the 2017 session.

Myers was diagnosed with ALS in February and died on Saturday. She was 73.

"Elaine Myers was an institution at the state capitol. She was a beacon of joy in an environment that can sometimes get caught up in political conflict and tension. She served this state with a cheerful heart and with grace,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver said Myers helped her find her footing when she suddenly became chair of the House Judiciary Committee in the middle of a session after her predecessor was stripped of his post.

"We all loved her. From my early days to her last days, she was so kind, so helpful and so steady for all of us," said Oliver. "There are people at the Capitol who really make it work, and Elaine Myers was one of them."

Oliver, D-Decatur, called Myers a parental figure at a statehouse that desperately needed one.

"She truly cared about all of us," she said. "She's impossible to replace, in terms of what she meant to all of us."

State Rep. Barry Fleming remembers meeting Myers in 1986 as a wide-eyed intern for the House Judiciary Committee. She encouraged him to follow a bill through the twists and turns of the statehouse – committee hearings, votes, drama and all – to learn the knotted ropes of the statehouse.

“She wanted me to learn the process," said Fleming, R-Harlem. "Not only was there always a smile on her face, but she made it her mission to make sure the least of us – the interns at the Capitol – got the full experience.”

Years later, after Republicans took control of the House and he got his pick of assistants, Fleming was quick to tap Myers – to the consternation of the Judiciary Committee’s leaders, who were set on keeping her. It was a testament to how well she knew the inner workings of the Capitol.

“She was dedicated to her work and she treated the members and the staff as her family and would do anything she could to help us at her job,” said Fleming.

Services will be 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, at Peachtree City Christian Church, 500 Kedron Drive, Peachtree City, GA. 30269. Visitation will be held an hour earlier.

More: Sign an online guestbook for Elaine Myers

A few years ago, House lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution commending her upon her retirement. It is filled with kind words about her legacy, but these perhaps are the kindest: "Elaine raised many of us in this chamber as well as many of those out in the halls."

Here it is:

Commending Elaine Myers and congratulating her upon her retirement; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, three decades and four years ago Elaine Myers came forth to this Gold Dome; and

WHEREAS, her first couple of years were wasted in the "House of Lords," but she soon came to her senses and spent the last 32 years in this House of Representatives; and

WHEREAS, she was a long-time resident of the House Judiciary Committee in Room 132, where her legacy is exhibited in the pictures on the wall of fame; and

WHEREAS, Elaine has been an ever helpful, accommodating guide throughout her tenure in Judiciary, the Majority Whip's Office, Ways and Means, and the Majority Leader's Office; and

WHEREAS, Elaine has raised many of us in this chamber as well as many of those out in the halls; and

WHEREAS, most of us cannot remember a time when "Information Central" did not equate to the office in which Elaine was currently residing; and

WHEREAS, the names of those she has served include some who have gone before us: the Honorable Wayne Snow, Warren Evans, Charles Thomas, Tommy Chambless, Jim Martin, Tom Bordeaux, Mary Margaret Oliver, Barry Fleming, Joe Wilkinson, and Larry O'Neal; and

WHEREAS, Elaine has firmly decided that she will be leaving the Capitol in 2014. She will be flying from coast to coast to visit her children and grandchildren. To Beverly, Chris, Jordan, and Erin Henretty; Barbara, Tom, and Leo Mensch; and Robert, Celia, Kate, Lilly, and Brooke Myers: we thank you for sharing this wonderful lady with us; and

WHEREAS, it is most appropriate to thank her for her 34 years of outstanding service; and

WHEREAS, she will be missed by one and all, but we recognize that no one is more deserving of retirement.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES that the members of this body thank and commend Elaine Myers for her service to this state, congratulate her upon her retirement, and urge her to take care of sweet Ellie and remember to visit.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.