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One woman who made a difference
I’ll never forget the first time I met Maryanne Ingemanson.
It was about four years ago, and I was in Reno moderating an NPRI panel on the long-running property-tax fight at Lake Tahoe, about which Maryanne knew a thing or two.
She was a natural fit for the panel, given her leading role, as president of the Village League to Save Incline Assets, in the effort to seek justice on behalf of long-abused Tahoe-area taxpayers. Yet I still remember her humble response when we approached her about participating. “I’m not really sure what I’d have to offer,” she said.
The answer, as it turned out, was: quite a bit. And I don’t just mean to that panel discussion. She had a lot to offer, and indeed gave so much, as a mentor, a business leader, a philanthropist, and a soldier in the fight for individual freedom and accountable government.
That fight became a little tougher last week, when Maryanne passed away at the age of 80 after a battle with cancer. I can’t say enough about what she meant to NPRI and the cause the Institute serves. She was an active and engaged member of our Board of Directors, but also much more. She was a source of great insight, sage advice and, during our more challenging moments, unfailing moral support.
There’s no way I could do her justice in this space, and there are others who knew her much longer and better than I did who can more adequately and articulately capture her legacy. But if you weren’t familiar with Maryanne or her work in the public realm, believe me — she’s worth knowing about.
She was best known, publicly, for her efforts to establish a fair and uniform system of property taxation in the Lake Tahoe communities, where the Washoe County government had long subjected citizens to arbitrary and unconstitutional assessment practices. Under Maryanne’s leadership, the Village League challenged those practices in court, and ultimately succeeded in securing $45 million in refunds to property owners in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. The Wall Street Journal reported it to be the largest such refund ever awarded.
It was a major victory for the cause of government accountability, one that I know brought Maryanne a great deal of pride and satisfaction. And rightfully so — her tenacity and determination were indispensible factors in making that victory possible, and the debt owed her for her efforts can never be repaid.
What I really love is the fact that she didn’t have to do it. After a successful and fruitful business career, Maryanne easily could have contented herself with a peaceful and quiet retirement. Yet she decided instead to devote her time and energy to fighting for what’s right and what’s good. That she chose to do so is admirable in itself. That she was so successful makes her story a true inspiration.
But the thing about Maryanne that always struck me the most, and that I’ll remember most fondly, was not what she did, but how she did it. As fierce and relentless as she could be in the political arena, she was as gentle, warm and pleasant outside of it. She always projected a contagious optimism, no matter the challenges she faced, and an uplifting spirit that made her a true joy to know. Even in our last phone conversation, just a couple weeks before she passed, you could hear that spirit in her voice, strong as ever.
To Maryanne’s family and friends, I want to extend the deepest sympathies of everyone here at NPRI. We’ll always remember Maryanne as a remarkable woman, a courageous leader, and a good friend. She’ll be missed, but we’ll move forward knowing that our cause is so much stronger today because of all she gave to it.
Rest in peace, Maryanne, and thank you.
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