Jane Ely: Political Junkie Of The Highest Order

The old guard of Houston journalism will be gathering this week to mark the passing of one of their own - and one of a kind.

Jane Ely, the longtime political columnist for the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post before that, died on Monday after a long illness. Funeral plans are still being finalized with the Heights Funeral Home.

Fred King, now with the Harris County Tax Assessor & Collector's Office, worked with Ely at the Post when he arrived in 1973. As he recalls it, she "had no patience with lazy work or lazy thinking but she would gladly help and mentor anyone who really wanted to learn." Eventually at the Post, she became an assistant city editor where she got the chance to mentor a lot of people.

By the time I joined the Post in 1980, Ely was legendary not only for her political writing that brought her into regular contact with politicians and officials at all the levels of power, but for her ability to tell a story to a listening audience, either around a city desk, or at a bar after work.

King remembers one of her best ones, from a few years spent sitting next to her at the Post.

"Jane, a candidate and a pilot were in a small plane hopping around the state to campaign stops. Always late, of course, the politician wanted to get to some spot despite the weather.

"The weather started tossing them around. The politician was either in the back seat or too sick to help or both. Jane got some clothing from a suitcase and kept the windshield clean enough for the pilot to see. The INSIDE of the windshield. The pilot was sick and hurling on the windshield."

As King puts it: "Then and always, Jane was fearless."

We'll update when the funeral arrangements become available.

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