Betty Ann Krahnke, 60, Potomac’s representative in County Council until two years ago, died on Sunday, Oct. 6 of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Her legacy is just so much of what this county is,” said Howie Denis (R-1), who succeeded Krahnke on County Council. “Her influence is going to be felt for many years.”
Krahnke is remembered by civic activists, elected officials and journalists, among others, as a teacher. She had a detailed grasp of the workings of the county, including the intricacies of planning and zoning gleaned from her years on the Planning Board. But she was able to teach others the basics without bogging down in jargon.
“Listening to her at Council, you learned so much from that — just listening to what she had to say,” said Nancy Dacek (R-2), a fellow member of County Council and a long-time friend. “It was like learning from a professor.”
KRAHNKE EVEN LEFT annotated text books behind for Denis. Her books on rustic roads from 1993 and 1994 were complete with her notes.
“When the Potomac Master Plan came up, I had this instruction book from Betty Ann,” Denis said. “She was so good at everything she did.”
Krahnke remained an active influence in the county right up until her death, despite being robbed of the ability talk or walk. She called Council staff last week to check on the status of several pieces of legislation.
“She was out and about every single day throughout this illness,” Denis said, recalling that Krahnke and her husband Wilson left for a trip to Russia the day after she revealed her diagnosis to the public. “She was a Russian scholar, she was an expert,” Denis said.
KRAHNKE WAS HONORED for her work on women’s issues, especially domestic violence.
“She did a lot of advocacy on behalf of women with domestic violence problems and their children, said Duchy Trachtenberg, head of Montgomery County chapter of the National Organization of Women.
“She was just a great lady, very loved in District One,” said Trachtenberg, a Democrat who will face Denis on the ballot Nov. 5. “She was very approachable, very responsive to the community. People here still talk about when they called Betty Ann and what she did.”
DACEK SAID SHE will miss Krahnke more as a friend than a colleague.
“I met Betty Ann on the tennis court at Kenwood Country Club, before she was even on the Planning Board,” said Dacek. “From then on we played tennis regularly, until the last time.”
Their last tennis game came in the spring of 2000, just before Krahnke’s diagnosis, when it was obvious that something was very wrong, Dacek said.
Dacek volunteered on Krahnke’s 1986 bid for County Council, an unsuccessful effort.
“We worked very hard,” Dacek said. “Betty Ann never did anything half way.
When Krahnke announced that she would run again in 1990, Dacek offered to work on her campaign.
“She said, ‘No you won’t. You go run yourself.,’” Dacek related.
Both women were elected in 1990.