2003: Mary Lou Cowlishaw
“To say Mary Lou Cowlishaw is about education would be to ignore the true value of the woman I know. She encompasses love of country… moral value … and love of state.”
Those words, spoken recently by Illinois Representative Lee Daniels, speak volumes about the character, the career and the accomplishments of Mary Lou Cowlishaw.
Mary Lou served Naperville and Illinois in the Illinois House of Representatives for 20 years. In the early 1970’s Mary Lou was an editor for the Naperville Sun, writing and commenting about the news fromSpringfield. In 1972 she was elected to the newly formed District 203 Board of Education, on which she served for 11 years and gained her now-famous passion for education.
In 1982 when it appeared there were no Republican incumbents running in the Naperville district, Mary Lou was approached to run for the Illinois House of Representatives. Mary Lou has always valued her husband’s advice and counsel. Her husband, Wayne, finally told her that if she did not run for office, she was no longer allowed to complain about what was happening in state government. But those of us who know her, know that it was her love of people and her desire to make a difference that convinced her to run and to stay in office for 20 years. On a personal note, as an “education groupie”, I have spent time discussing the state of education in Illinois with Mary Lou. Those discussions always centered on improving educational opportunity and results for all children. In fact, I think Mary Lou cared more about the students in Chicago than many of Chicago’s own representatives.
For her 20 years in office, Mary Lou has been a friend to Naperville children,Napervillebusinesses and all ofNaperville’s residents. In every decision on the House floor, Mary Lou thought first about her constituents and how they would want her to represent them. And at every turn she conducted herself honorably, gracefully and always with a whale of a good story.
Congratulations to Mary Lou Cowlishaw on a lifetime of service and dedication… long may it continue.