- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Friends and co-workers of Emily Couric yesterday remembered the state senator as a courageous woman who fought for her beliefs and never forgot about the people she served even as she battled cancer.
Mrs. Couric, 54, died yesterday morning at her home in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a 15-month battle with pancreatic cancer. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at St. Paul's Memorial Church in Charlottesville. Interment will be private.
Virginia Democrats and Republicans yesterday called Mrs. Couric "a brave woman" who resolved to fight her illness despite knowing that the odds of defeating the deadly disease were against her.
"We loved Emily and we will miss her terribly," said Lawrence H. Framme III, who co-chaired the state's Democratic Party with Mrs. Couric. "Yet, we will remember her for the balance of our lives because her persistent optimism taught us to believe in what is right and always to fight for what we believe."
Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III yesterday echoed Mr. Framme's sentiment.
"Emily Couric was a principled legislator who fought for what she believed," the Republican governor said. "Emily took that same determination in her fight against cancer, and was an inspiration to many Virginians."
Mrs. Couric was born in Atlanta in 1947, and her family moved to Virginia in 1951. A 1965 graduate of Yorktown High School in Arlington, Mrs. Couric graduated from Smith College with honors in 1969, receiving a bachelor's degree.
Prior to stepping into the political arena, Mrs. Couric was a high school biology teacher and worked as a journalist for the Legal Times, covering legal issues in Washington.
She also wrote free-lance stories for the National Law Journal and wrote nonfiction books about the legal profession. She received the first-place prize for nonfiction from the National Association of Press Women for her book "The Trial Lawyers: The Nation's Top Litigators Tell How They Win."
Mrs. Couric served on the Charlottesville School Board from 1985 to 1991. She was first elected state senator in 1995 and was re-elected in 1999.
A strong advocate for public education and health care issues, Mrs. Couric's legislative accomplishments have included bills establishing the Advanced Mathematics and Technology Diploma Seal for high school graduates and the Commonwealth Neurotrauma Initiative to support research and rehabilitation for victims of spinal-cord and traumatic brain injuries.
Mrs. Couric also made Virginia the first state in the country to mandate health insurance coverage for colorectal cancer screenings. The issue hit close to home: The husband of her younger sister, TV news personality Katie Couric, died of colon cancer in January 1998.
"Emily Couric was an excellent legislator," said state Delegate John H. Rust Jr., Fairfax Republican. "Members on both sides of the aisle respected her grace, intelligence and determination Emily was always involved. And she cared deeply for the commonwealth and its people."
A leader in the Virginia Democratic Party, Mrs. Couric explored a race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor until she was diagnosed with cancer in July 2000. Mrs. Couric was regarded as the front-runner for the party's nomination and a strong candidate for the general election.
"If she hadn't gotten sick, she would have been the state's lieutenant governor-elect in three weeks," said state Sen. Linda T. "Toddy" Puller, Alexandria Democrat. "I truly believe that."
Mrs. Couric withdrew from the race after the diagnosis, but she didn't step down from office. Instead, as she underwent treatment for her cancer and she volunteered to rebuild the state's beleaguered Democratic Party, which had not won a statewide election in nearly seven years. Last December, Mrs. Couric was elected to serve as general chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.
She was a strong supporter of Alexandria businessman Mark R. Warner, and colleagues said she believed Mr. Warner the Democrat candidate in this year's governor's race was the best hope to revitalize the state party.
Yesterday, Mr. Warner said Mrs. Couric "epitomized the best of the human spirit."
"Virginia is a better place because Emily Couric served it," Mr. Warner said. "We are all better people because Emily Couric touched our lives. Emily will be missed, but her legacy and spirit endure."
The cancer and treatments didn't stop Mrs. Couric from working through last year's drawn-out General Assembly. "Emily Couric represented her district in an outstanding fashion, and I admired her for her dedication to the job," said Lt. Gov. John H. Hager. "A woman of true confidence and integrity, she was a strong model for all public servants and will deeply be missed."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark L. Earley called her death a loss for the whole state.
"Emily's Couric passing is a great loss for Virginia. We will miss her humor, her passionate commitment to so many causes, and her dedication to Virginia," he said.
Many of her colleagues yesterday said they will remember Mrs. Couric as a role model for young women and girls who want to go into politics. She held luncheons to honor female leaders and was instrumental in getting annual scholarships for college-bound women in Charlottesville-area high schools.
"Emily is an icon for all those little girls who are looking to work in politics," said state Sen. Leslie Byrne, Fairfax Democrat.
Mrs. Couric is survived by her husband of 20 years, Dr. George A. Beller of Charlottesville; son Dr. Ray Wadlow and daughter-in-law Jessica, of Philadelphia; and son Jeff Wadlow of Los Angeles. She is also survived by her parents, Elinor and John M. Couric of Arlington; her siblings, Clara Couric Batchelor, John M. Couric Jr. and Katie Couric; stepchildren Michael Beller, Amy Beller and Leslie Beller; seven nieces and nephews and two stepgrandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to Cancer Center Patient Support Services, Box 800334, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Va. 22908.

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