She was a sister and a champion

She was a sister and a champion

Editor’s note: JoAnn Cardenas Enos died in February. She was a champion of civil rights, including the rights of people with disabilities. But she is also remembered as a compassionate friend and family member. Her oldest brother, Rick Cardenas, read this at her wake.

I loved growing up with JoAnn. Jo and I hung out in our backyard where there were old foundations of houses torn down from years ago and trees to climb and a big space to play in. When the snow came, we always made a snowman. We had a little hill in the yard, so it was easy to roll the snow into a big ball for our snowmen. This was a big part of our life as children.

Then we started at Van Buren Elementary School, the same school that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger and Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun had also attended grade school at. That cut into our time together except at home. But when we were in seventh, and eighth grade the Dayton’s Bluff Playground started teenage dances. I guess it was done to keep us and other teens out of trouble. We spent almost every Friday night at those dances and the rest of the summer, fall and winter participating in other afterschool activities and playing on the playground.

JoAnn tried to teach me how to dance for those dances, including all the latest teen dance steps. She helped me learn to slow dances, which came in handy as a young male.

Politically we traveled with similar thoughts. She would go to the caucuses and not be afraid to raise issues important to women and minorities. She was on board with GLBT issues immediately upon hearing any negativity in that regard. She always made sure that the caucus sites were physically accessible.

JoAnn was very inclusive of others and encouraged many to get involved in politics. She loved the pomp and circumstance as the well as the political infighting at those DFL Conventions and Democratic National Conventions. She especially liked going to President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

Some of my fondest memories of JoAnn were when we were out doing leafleting and picketing for Cesar Chavez’ United Farm Workers. She would bring my nieces to the picket line. Lori, Candi and Chris would help me pass out leaflets for UFW boycotts. These are fun memories for me but maybe not for the nieces.

JoAnn was always a very social person, and she liked parties, conventions, caucuses, the state DFL Central Committee meetings, community meetings and other gatherings. She loved working on the Access Press annual awards banquet for its beginning years at the Black Bear Crossing on the Lake.

She liked family picnics and family events including weddings. She threw me surprise party after surprise party. She even put an ad in Access Press announcing one surprise party. I didn’t catch it.