FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2008
Chuck Ardo(717) 783-1116
Governor Rendell Announces the Passing of Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll
HARRISBURG - Governor Edward G. Rendell tonight announced the passing of Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll.
“On behalf of all Pennsylvania, Midge and I extend heart-felt sympathy to Catherine’s family,” Governor Rendell said. “Today we mourn the passing of one of the strongest, most dedicated public servants in Pennsylvania’s history. Our thoughts and prayers are with Catherine’s family. She will be deeply missed.
“Even as she fought cancer in recent months, she remained upbeat and dedicated to serving the commonwealth,” he said. “Catherine was a very passionate and exuberant advocate for many worthy causes. Her passing is a tremendous loss for the many people whose lives she touched.”
Knoll died Wednesday at approximately 6 p.m. at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she was recovering from treatment for neuroendocrine cancer. She was surrounded by her family.
Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, Knoll will be replaced as Lieutenant Governor by the Senate President Pro Tempore, Joseph B. Scarnati III (R-Jefferson).
As lieutenant governor, Knoll played a vital role in addressing a variety of issues of critical importance to the people of Pennsylvania. She was particularly proud of her accomplishment of creating of TAP 529 Pennsylvania Tuition Account Program, which has since been renamed ‘nowU.’ She was also instrumental in issues including emergency management, domestic preparedness, economic development and local government. She served as the president of the Senate and chairwoman of the Board of Pardons, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council, and the Local Government Advisory Committee.
Knoll was sworn in on Jan. 21, 2003, as Pennsylvania’s 30th lieutenant governor; the first woman elected to the post.
A native of Allegheny County, Knoll, 78, devoted her life to public service, first as a school teacher and business woman and later advancing issues such as finance, transportation, housing, education, environmental work, human rights, small business development, and urban and rural revitalization efforts.
She contributed to her community through her longstanding service to the Pennsylvania Federation of Democratic Women, Federal Home Loan Bank Board of Pittsburgh, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Angel’s Place, the NAACP, Elder Care, Inc., Pennsylvania Nature Conservancy and the Pittsburgh Golden Triangle.
Knoll spearheaded a number of initiatives to promote safety and prosperity for Pennsylvanians of all ages.
She was a strong supporter of Project ChildSafe, which reminded gun owners to properly store firearms in the home to prevent a loaded firearm from falling into the hands of a child. Project ChildSafe distributed millions of free safety kits including cable-style gun locking devices and safety education materials at major public events.
Knoll was a strong advocate for Dress for Success South Central PA which helps disadvantaged women enter the workforce in the south central Pennsylvania region.
She was an active member of the NLGA (National Lieutenant Governors Association), working on substantive policy issues and international missions - work that is an accurate reflection of the growing role of the office of lieutenant governor. Knoll worked with other members on items ranging from education reform and international trade to health care and federalism issues. She spearheaded Pennsylvania’s participation as one of 10 states involved in NLGA’s education campaign regarding cervical cancer, beginning in August of 2006 — “Ending Cervical Cancer in our Lifetime.”
She also helped foster collaboration among academia, industry, government agencies and technical support organizations promote the Strengthening the Mid-Atlantic Region for Tomorrow, or SMART, regional alliance with Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware. SMART promotes the Mid-Atlantic region’s technical enterprise and intellectual vitality for the economic benefit of the region.
Knoll served eight distinguished years as State Treasurer. During her tenure, she implemented and maintained the highest standards of accountability and integrity. She also kept Pennsylvania ahead of the technology curve by building a high-tech investment center that saved Pennsylvania hundred of millions of dollars through increased efficiency and returned nearly $2 billion in interest.
Honored by organizations throughout the nation for her leadership, she accumulated a long list of firsts, among them: First woman appointed to the AFL-CIO Housing and Building Board of Trustees, Chairwoman of the Pension Committee of the National Association of State Treasurers, and various small business loan programs for women and minorities.
As Lieutenant Governor she received additional accolades in the past five years from the Greater Washington County Food Bank, Honorary Board Member, Friend of PA Harness Racing Commission, PA Prison Society Humanitarian of The Year Award, promoting a strategic alliance with DE, MD, NJ, and PA, YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Women of the Year Award, Chapel of the Four Chaplains Gold Medal Award, Circle of Excellence First Women Elected to The Office of The Lieutenant Governor, Philadelphia AIDS Consortium, State Library Rare Book Room Outstanding Support.
Knoll’s late husband, Charles, was a U.S. Postmaster. Their four children, Charles, Mina, Albert, and Kim Eric, are all adult professionals in their own right.
Knoll was the daughter of Nicholas and Teresa Baker. She was educated at Saint Mary’s High School in McKees Rocks, Duquesne University, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit: http://www.governor.state.pa.us/ .
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“I loved” Catherine Baker Knoll; I did not always agree with her position but I respected the woman's tenacity. I was honored to talk to her at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner here in Pittsburgh. I will always remember when Onarato, and Ravenstahl tried to push her in the back, and she did not have it, or stand for it, and pushed right back to announce Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, President William Jefferson Clinton to the stage at a rally. I admired her moxie when people counted her out, she came back and shined. I also remember working on campaigns were she was involved and she would have Jenny Lee treats brought over for all. I will miss her and her spirit she brought to everything. She fought to break new ground for women here in the Commonwealth. I can only thank her for the fighter she was and hope some of that is in her children. Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll first women in the State of Pennsylvania to be the Lieutenant Governor we salute you, and will miss you.
Sincerely Ms. Matthews