Bloomington's progressive community lost one of its greatest friends and allies with Roberta McCloskey's passing last week. Hers are shoes that will never be filled.

To honor Roberta's lifetime commitment to social justice, The Bloomington Alternative last week offered column space for her friends and admirers. Ann Colbert sent the following:


Roberta was a steady, tireless worker in political campaigns. Her clear-sighted approaches to social change and her absolute personal belief in grassroots activism were never relinquished, even when her outspoken views contradicted those of her well-known husband.

I remember one incident involving a quote which had appeared in the local newspaper. Frank had been called by someone who had asked why he "couldn't control his wife," and after we all finished laughing about that idea, she turned to me and said something like, "Why would Frank want a wife he could control?"

Even though she worked hard--going door-to-door for weeks before each of Frank's elections--her labor wasn't just for him. In fact, in some ways I think she found the role of "wife" of a Congressman something to accept, even tolerate. She was working for principles; she was, in all ways, a small-d democrat as well as a hardworking believer in the Democratic Party.

I have known Roberta since before either of us had children. In fact, it was pregnancy and early motherhood that brought us closer to each other at the beginning. Our husbands were reporters on the Indianapolis Star and we spent much time talking, listening to Bob Dylan, wondering what it would take to end the war in Vietnam, reading and discussing Dr. Spock. How quickly the years have gone.

Ann Colbert is journalism coordinator at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne.