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Benjamin C.
Democrat MD

About Sen. Benjamin
  • Tribute to Nellie Freeman

    by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

    Posted on 2013-12-20

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    CARDIN. Madam President, staff turnover is part of life in the Senate, just as it is in any other institution. But some departures are particularly bittersweet. Today is the last day Helen Eleanor Freeman will be working in my office; she is retiring after more than 23 years of faithful--and joyful service--to me and to former Senator Paul Sarbanes, to the Senate, and to the people of Maryland.

    Her name is Helen Eleanor Freeman, but throughout the Senate and beyond Capitol Hill, everyone knows her as Nellie. She is an avid volleyball player and her recreational activity led, through another player, to her first job in the Senate, with Senator Sarbanes, in 1989. When Senator Sarbanes retired and I was elected to replace him, he was adamant that I must hire Nellie as I filled out my Senate staff. He told me, ``There is no one quite like Nellie,'' and over the past 7 years I have been fortunate to have Nellie on my staff, I certainly have come to agree with that assessment. Nellie is unique. She is the ``glue'' that holds our office together. While I am happy for her, I am sad she will be leaving the office and I know the rest of my staff shares that assessment.

    [[Page S9098]] Nellie is an avid fan of the local teams, especially the Baltimore Orioles. So I will use a sports analogy from baseball. Nellie is like the super utility infielder--the person who can play any position well, the consummate team player. Name just about any task or function in the office, and Nellie has performed it--manning the phones, sorting and responding to constituent correspondence, helping to select, train, and supervise the interns--you name it and Nellie has done it.

    So there are the official duties and there are the unofficial duties. With regard to the unofficial duties, Nellie has been the go-to person when it comes to organizing office parties to celebrate birthdays, afterhours social events, staff book clubs, and so forth. That is the ``glue'' I was talking about a moment ago. The Senate can be a difficult place in which to work, both for Senators and staff. Nellie has played a critical role in helping my staff feel more like a welcoming family and that redounds not only to my benefit, but to the benefit of the Senate.

    Nellie is unfailingly calm, courteous, solicitous, kind, and happy. Her personality shines through and her cheerfulness is infectious, much appreciated, and an example for all of us. Nellie makes friends with everyone: constituents, colleagues, other Senate staff, Senators. She makes it easier and more pleasant for everyone to work here. That is no small accomplishment.

    Nellie is retiring today, but she is far from having a ``retiring'' personality so I know she will remain as busy and engaged as ever. She has volleyball and book clubs and volunteer activities and the Orioles. During the season, I didn't need to read the sports page to determine whether the Orioles had won the night before. If they had won, Nellie would be at work in the morning resplendent in black and orange attire.

    Most of all, Nellie has her beloved husband Bob Ham and the rest of her large family--her parents Bob and Molly Freeman; her siblings David, Mary, Emily, and Teddy; in-laws Jessica, Andy, and Nadia; and her nieces and nephews Rachel, Zach, Francesca, Koby, Saul, Ben, Molly, and Amelie and most of them live in the area. It is a big, raucous family filled with the same love and good cheer Nellie exudes.

    So to Nellie Freeman on the occasion of her retirement after more than 23 years of serving the people of Maryland and all Americans, thank you for your exemplary service and, above all, thank you for your friendship. Go O's! ____________________

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