Before retiring from politics, Jeannette Hayner was a regular and welcome visitor to the Tri-City Herald.
She had, at times, great power in the state Legislature.
But people who knew her won't remember her for her power.
She was a leader.
Leadership and power are two different things.
When they are combined, as in her case, something very special is achieved.
She died last week at 91.
How she would have fared in today's bitter divisiveness in politics we do not know.
It was not her way, and that was not the way politics was played in those days.
Hayner, a Republican to the core, lived in Walla Walla -- the heart of the 16th Legislative District -- for most of her life.
She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1972. In 1976 she moved up to the Senate. Only three years later she was elected leader of the Republicans in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Then, in 1981, Sen. Peter von Reichbauer, Vashon Island, switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party.
Thus, Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time in 26 years. Hayner was suddenly the Senate majority leader, the first woman in history to achieve that distinction.
From 1979 to her retirement in 1992, Hayner remained leader of the Senate Republicans and as majorities moved back and forth during those years, she served as either Senate majority leader or Senate minority leader.
It had been so long since Republicans had held power in the Senate (1955) that they sought help from legislative leaders from other states to advise them about procedures to accomplish a smooth transition in the middle of a session.
Despite her achievements, Hayner did not consider herself a feminist or a trailblazer.
"I treated everyone as individuals, not as a male or female," she said in a 2004 interview with her hometown newspaper, The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.
She loved Walla Walla but did not neglect the rest of her district.
Many in the Tri-Cities may remember former legislators Jim Jesernig and Valoria Loveland, both Democrats, as principal champions of the bill that created TRAC in Pasco, but it was Hayner, before them, who protected the project from budget-cutters who wanted to let it go.
Indeed, during the time that Hayner was in Senate leadership and the late Rep. Bill Grant was a Democratic leader in the House, the 16th District was pretty much the political fulcrum of the state.
We obviously will miss Sen. Hayner.
She was always cordial, never imperious; always good-humored but also responsible and serious when the issues called for it.
She was in political terms, but more importantly, in human terms, a very, very big deal.