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Former Staffer Frances Still, 97, Dies

Frances Still, a longtime Capitol Hill staffer whose spunk and Southern drawl endeared Members, colleagues and a host of friends, passed away Feb. 7. She was 97.

[IMGCAP(1)]A native of Richmond, Va., Still moved to Washington in the 1940s after her local Congressman, Rep. Thomas Burch (D-Va.), asked her over lunch at the Willard Hotel to serve as his secretary. Still expected to be in Washington no more than a year, but instead she spent well over three decades on Capitol Hill, where she retired in 1977.

“She was such a lady and had so much spunk that we would say she is 97, but in her case it was only a number,” said Eleanor Presley Mohler, one of Still’s closest friends.

Still worked for a handful of Members and eventually served as clerk of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, making her one of the highest-paid women on Capitol Hill.

There were a handful of younger female staffers working on the House committee, and Still mentored and mothered them all regardless of whether they sought her advice.

Small in stature, Still ruled the committee with an iron fist, but she endeared colleagues with her gracious charm and sassy personality.

In her later years, Still insisted that her group of former protégées meet for lunch regularly to compare notes and reminisce. The group’s most recent lunch, in December at the Mount Vernon Country Club, would be Still’s last.

During that get-together, which was featured in Roll Call (97-Year-Old Doyenne Still Leads Hill Staffers), Still greeted her younger friends with red carnation corsages and offered fashion commentary for the group. Fiercely independent both on Capitol Hill and in her retired life, Still insisted on paying for the meal and only required they share news from their personal lives and drink at least one glass of chardonnay.

Still is survived by her sister and three brothers, a handful of nieces and nephews and the loyal group of Capitol Hill friends that grew into a clique of spiritual sisters who visited her up until her death. A funeral service at the Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home in Alexandria, Va., was held Feb. 10.

“She was always so full of life,” Mohler said. “She was a mentor, a second mother and a cherished friend to me and all the ladies, and we will sorely miss her.”

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