BY AUDREY SCAGNELLI (H ‘09)
In September 2019, the world lost a giant and the Pages lost a friend. Cokie Roberts was a trailblazer in the world of journalism—the recipient of three Emmy Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress— she was also a “Founding Mother” at NPR and spent 30 years at ABC News.
Cokie had in her heart a fondness for the Page program and gave generously of her time on many occasions to support the Alumni Association.
We pay tribute to Cokie’s many efforts to support the world of Paging. She beautifully narrated “Democracy’s Messengers: The Never- Before-Told Story of Young Americans on Capitol Hill,” the 2015 documentary about the history of the Page program. As a historian, she wrote of Civil War-era Pages in her New York Times bestseller “Capital Dames.” She appreciated the bipartisan nature of Paging and the grounding impact the presence of young people had on Congress.
Perhaps most importantly, Cokie credited the program to the very existence of her grandchildren—her son Lee met his future bride the summer after his junior year of high school and the summer before hers, when they served together as Pages. Many years later, with the help of then-Clerk of the House Donnald K. Anderson, a former Page himself, Lee proposed under the Capitol Dome.
Cokie was a tireless advocate for the voiceless and a role model to countless many, myself humbly included. Her beloved husband, professor Steve Roberts, became a mentor to me during my freshman year in college. Our first conversation centered around the lasting impact of the Page program. I treasure the gentle, wise advice Cokie shared with me during a handful of weekend morning phone calls alongside her husband. The scores and scores of tributes to Cokie, from those who knew her well to those who spoke with her once to those who never had the chance, but felt like they had, offer proof that kindness counts. They gave ink to a purposeful life, one lived fully and filled with a bevy of benevolent acts.
In 2017, Cokie said of her career, “It is such a privilege—you have a front seat to history.” We former Pages feel privileged to have briefly held our own front seats, and privileged to have had a friend and supporter like Cokie. The world feels a little smaller … a little darker … without the witty and kind and decent Cokie Roberts. But the force for good now has a reverent angel. May Cokie Roberts rest in peace.