I first met Lois in the 1970's. Lois liked police officers, and ran up to any she saw (unless it was someone who had made her mad recently), usually at the most awkward moment. She was on hand for traffic crashes, street brawls, traffic stops, and every special event imaginable. Lois was, well, a character--one hard to describe. She had both an endearing and annoying habit of blurting out whatever she wished to say to you, no matter how inappropriate the setting. She was at the same time street-savvy but child-like.
And despite the fact that she was totally self-powered, she was fast: very, very fast. The speed with which she moved earned her the nickname Road Runner among the police force. You'd be at a collision at 27th and O Street, and Lois would be hollering at you to come over to the corner, where she had some trinket Chief Leitner had given her that she wanted to show you. Five minutes later, you'd be helping to cuff up a panhandler at 9th and Q, and Lois would be there, too. She ran or biked around downtown and the near south faster than a police cruiser could drive. In later years, she used a walker, but still managed to be at five different events where you would encounter her on the same day.
One Saturday, Tonja and I had taken our grandson to see the State Capital. We were on the 14th floor in the Memorial Chamber, when the elevator doors opened, and out popped Lois. She had to show us the project she was crocheting, and of course we had to introduce her to our grandson. On occasion, I had to admonish Lois when her antics were causing a bit of a disruption or problem. I found her one evening in the early 1980s, sitting on a curb at 16th and K Street in tears. I had said something mean to her earlier in the shift at another location that had hurt her feelings. I felt about a half-inch tall.
For the past twenty years or so, I've been on the lookout for little lapel pins that I could often pickup at conferences or meetings. Lois loved these, and I always felt a little bad when she would stop to see me and I was tapped out for the moment. She was a giver, and was constantly creating law enforcement-themed crafts for her friends. Yesterday morning, as we were reminiscing about Lois with the reporters at the daily press briefing, Sheriff Terry Wagner disappeared for a moment, and returned from his office with a typical example: a crocheted clock, in the classic style of Lois Neuman. She must have made scores of these over the years.
Lois loved police officers, firefighters, public officials, and their assistants. She may have died without family, but in a sense, we were her family. Her guardian sent me an email about her passing, with this excerpt:
"As you know, the only true family Lois had is the one she created on her own with public officials, their staff and the people she came in contact with who would take time to be her friend. The last story she told me about an officer was when she was still in her apartment and there was a fire above her. An officer came in, wrapped her in a blanket and put her in his cruiser to keep her warm until she could be placed somewhere overnight. I am going through her belongings, and the mementos from LPD are countless. I am sure it is no surprise to you."I will miss Lois. She could be cantankerous from time to time, but that was the exception. She managed on her own for decades as best she could, facing obstacles that I can only imagine. At the heart, she was a gentle soul, and has earned her rest. There will be a memorial for her in the Chapel at Tabitha, 4720 Randolph, at 4:00 PM on January 6th.