Rep. Christine Palm and Rep. Quentin Williams laughing on the House floor. Credit: Brian O'Connor photo

You need to know this about Q Williams.

Warmth emanated from every part of him. He enveloped all of us — singly and collectively — with his whole body and soul. He threw his arms around you and squeezed until you thought you might not breathe again for the joy he gave you. But he embraced your sorrow and confusion with delicacy and utter tenderness.

He acknowledged color, gender, and political persuasion keenly and sharply and without blinking. But then he did what so few of us can do — he pushed through it all. He pushed through human foible, political divide, economic strata, and difference of opinion with ferocity. And he didn’t stop until he pulled us through it with him, as if rescuing us from a fire. The fire of our own ignorance and smallness.

He painted one fingernail just to be subversive. When I mentioned I was unsure what to wear to the Governor’s Inaugural Ball, he texted me:  “Sister, we’re taking our pay bump and buying you a dress. Tell me you were raised by a single mother without saying you were raised by a single mother, LOL.”

He renamed himself last year to honor that single mother whom he revered and spoke of often.

He and our colleague Jillian Gilchrest called ourselves The Mod Squad. He was, of course, Linc Hayes — the smart, cool Brother who helped the two white ladies be their bravest selves.

I am tempted to say he would have made a great chair of the Labor Committee, but that’s not quite right. He was, in fact, a great Labor chair. His mark has already been felt. Workers throughout the state will benefit from the plans he was making because we will pass those laws in his honor.

Quentin Williams had a shrieking, high, and joyful laugh. It was oblivious to its own volume; nearly hysterical, and it flew out of him often, sometimes at strange times. Then it would trail off and get very low and quiet, almost conspiratorial.

Because he was educated and steeped in finance, he was appalled by the unequal distribution of wealth and so was unabashedly and proudly a Progressive. Q did not live long enough to see Connecticut reform its tax structure, and now, that’s on us.

Q plunged forward whenever a good idea struck him, which was often, and he worked out the details as needed. His colleagues’ cell phones are replete with his text — “More info coming!”  And it always did.

He always called you back. I will wait a lifetime for his call, because, right now, I can’t see a way through the world’s squalid human fire without him.

State Rep. Christine Palm represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam. She is a member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee and has introduced a resolution to amend the state constitution to create unconditional absentee balloting.

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