Members of the Oregon Legislature’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color Caucus (BIPOC) announced Friday morning the death of Lawanda Joyce Manning, a legislative staff member and wife of Senate President Pro-Tem James Manning, Jr., D-Eugene.
“Affectionately known as ‘Miss Lawanda,’ she was a force in the Capitol, combining an unmatched grace with power and beauty,” the press release said. “She was not a woman who worked behind the scenes. She led out front as a leader in the community, chairing the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs, helping to usher in a historic wave of progress in the arena of civil rights and social justice.”
Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley, and Sen. Lew Frederick, D-N Portland, both commented on their grief and empathy for Sen. Manning as he mourns the passing of his wife and partner.
Frederick noted that Lawanda Manning was the type of person who created an expectation that lawmakers would always give their best effort by having confidence in them that the right thing was being done.
Bynum’s statement expressed an extremely personal sentiment, illustrating Lawanda Manning’s impact in welcoming her family to the Capitol as their “legislative grandma.”
“They loved going to the Manning office to get an ice cream sandwich or jug of chocolate milk,” Bynum said. “She took them to lunch and let them hang out in their office. Miss Lawanda made them feel special, loved, and seen. She made the Capitol feel warm.”
Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, also released a statement Friday in response to Lawanda Manning’s death saying that the Capitol lost one of its “kindest souls.”
“Lawanda was full of love, laughter, and joy. Wherever she went, she lit up the room and brought smiles to faces. Generous and full of compassion, she always looked for ways to make life better for others,” Courtney’s statement said. “Lawanda was an incredible woman, wife, and friend. My heart goes out to her husband, James. She was his rock. They shared a strong bond. She will be missed.”