Family, friends and political allies honored the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein at her funeral service Thursday in San Francisco, the city where she she grew up and launched a half-century career in public service.
The speakers at her City Hall memorial service ― including Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ― all took time to honor Feinstein the elected official: the Senate’s longest-serving member, the first female senator from California, San Francisco’s first woman mayor, author of the Assault Weapons Ban and fierce negotiator.
But what dazzled at Thursday’s service were the stories of Dianne the friend, mother, grandmother, colleague and neighbor.
“When I was sworn into the Senate in 2017, it was Dianne who welcomed me,” Harris, who served as California senator until winning the vice presidency in 2020, said on the steps of City Hall. “She invited me to her Senate hideaway. There with one hand, she presented me with a glass of California Chardonnay and with the other hand, a binder full of her draft bills.”
Schumer recalled Feinstein, who died last Friday at age 90, going out of her way to welcome his daughter to her hometown and ensure she had a place to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
“When my daughter first moved to San Francisco out of college, that September, I got a call from Dianne. She asked me, ‘Does your daughter have anywhere to go for the High Holy Day services?’ I said no. She said, ‘Well, she’s going to services with me,’” Schumer recounted.
“I will always be indebted to Dianne, not just as a colleague but as a father of two daughters,” he continued. “Because of Dianne, my daughters grew up in a world that’s a little bit fairer, a little more just and more accepting of women in leadership.”
Former House Speaker Pelosi, who was neighbors with Feinstein in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights area, recalled the late senator’s penchant for setting people up on dates.
“You know that Dianne was a matchmaker. Now, some of you who know that, you’re here ― Jerry Brown and Anne Gust,” Pelosi said, gesturing to the former California governor and his wife.
Feinstein and Pelosi often leaned on each other as two of the most powerful women in Congress, the former speaker said, and the best guidance she ever got from Feinstein was to let others take on some of the fight.
“The most constant advice I ever got from her, again and again, was ‘Nancy, you don’t always have to be the one going out on the attack. Let some other people do that from time to time. Why don’t you do that?’” Pelosi recalled.
Both Harris and Pelosi talked about Feinstein’s quiet talents as an artist, a hobby she picked up when she first joined the Senate and felt lonely in Washington. Many of her colored pencil drawings lined the walls of her Capitol office, and she was known for giving out copies to colleagues.
She was a “gifted and, I will add, very generous artist,” Harris said at Thursday’s service. “Many of us are collectors of Dianne’s work.”
Feinstein’s granddaughter, Eileen Mariano, delivered the day’s final remarks, recounting the senator’s role in saving San Francisco’s cable car system, her development of Amber Alerts and her fight against the government’s use of torture.
“But to me,” Mariano said, “she will be remembered as the most incredible grandmother.”