WASHINGTON – The Senate has bid goodbye to Ruby.
For 41 years, Ruby Paone was one of the unsung heroes of the Senate, one of the many staffers who kept the institution functioning every day, from the opening prayer to the wrap-up. She has been the doorkeeper for many years, retiring last month to spend time with her family.
Senate staff toasted her late Monday night at a small party. Arrayed along one side of the room were photos of Paone with staff and past senators, from Tennessee's Howard Baker to Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
Her departure prompted bipartisan words of praise.
"When Ruby Paone started here, her first day on the job in 1975, she was fresh out of college," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on May 25. "Today, she has served here longer than any current senator, save one, the senior senator from Vermont (Patrick Leahy.)"
McConnell said the Senate has been a family affair for Paone, who met her husband Marty in the Senate. Her son, Tommy, works at the Senate appointments desk and her daughter Stephanie in the Democratic cloakroom.
"We are glad that Ruby will get to spend more quality time — that is, non-Senate time — with her family," McConnell said.
Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., highlighted that Paone is the "longest serving woman who works with the doorkeepers," through seven presidential administrations, 10 inaugurations, 16 sergeants at arms, and 383 senators.
"Throughout my entire time in the Senate, she has always been here with a smile and a kind word. She is as much a part of this place as anyone who has ever served in the Senate," Reid said on May 25.