Ann Terry Pincus remarks delivered at the Cosmos Club, Washington, DC on July 14, 2005.
What do Fred Dutton, Katharine Graham, journalist Larry Stern, public policy leader Frank Sieverts, journalist Barbara Cochran and Walter’s and my son Ward all have in common? They were all born on Bloom’s day, June 16, a date immortalized by James Joyce as the birthday of Leopold Bloom in Ulysses.
Of that crowd – with all due respect to astrology charts – it is difficult to find a common personality thread except that all of them would have sat down with Stephen Daedalus and Leopold Bloom in an Irish pub, sipping a drink or two together, telling stories about people and politics and – at least among the men -- women. But the one who would have enjoyed it the most was would have been Fred.
I consider Fred (and Nancy) part of my family. Because our son was born on Fred’s birthday 39 years ago (the day after Fred and Nancy and Walter and I had gone to the Shoreham Hotel to hear Peggy Lee sing “Fever” to celebrate Fred’s birthday), we always felt as though we were related to the Duttons – and, as we all know, there is nothing like family.
But what is it about Fred Dutton that will cause us to miss him so?
First, his sense of humor (we can all hear his ‘hee, hee hee’ as he joked over the foibles of his follow man) or ruefully discussed his own foibles, for that matter.
I don’t know how Fred did it, but he managed to gossip without being gossipy. His eyes would light up as he would lean over and talk and let go with his sort of benign cackle, telling tales that were always shrewd or mischievous, but never mean – at least not to Democrats!
The second is that Fred was joyous. No matter how down one felt, or low or tired or angry, seeing Fred never failed to brighten the day. His pure joyousness at being alive, and willing to greet the day, no matter what, never failed to boost the spirits of those of us lucky enough to be with him. Fred always made me – and I am sure – all of you feel just a little bit better about the world and ourselves.
Fred just loved life; in my view he was tickled by it and he understood the dark side, yet got up every day, working for the good guys.
I can’t recall ever disagreeing with Fred’s views on politics or American foreign policy – he always seemed to be able to articulate what I was thinking in a vague way, and giving it focus and meaning. I don’t think that the fact that I always agreed with him colored my views that he was brilliant, but it is possible.
Seriously though, Fred was fair. Although he was passionate in his belief in the ideals of the democratic party and an innate sense of the importance of justice for all, he brought a lawyer’s mind to the issues and never allowed his beliefs to cloud the realities.
A small example of his fairness, I think, was when he, together with Nancy, set up the Mobil Town Hall, which took place monthly in the newly opened Eisenhower Theatre of the Kennedy Center, complete with sets from plays that were staged nightly.
No one ever accused Fred of putting on programs that benefited Mobil – they were just public affairs programs that discussed the issues of the day.
(An aside, Fred always look out for his friends.) Fred hired me to write up the discussions for Mobil back there in the very early 70s when I had three small children; not a big job, but we were pretty broke at the time and it helped our bank account. That is an example of Fred’s great loyalty to friends. He never let us down. Or at least I have never heard anyone suggest such a thing.
So we will miss him. We will miss his stories about his upbringing in Colorado, his life in California with Ronald Reagan and Pat Brown and all the other political rascals, his days with Jack and Bobby Kennedy, and with Prince Bandar in Washington.
Times have changed, people have changed. The world that created Fred Dutton – like Fred – is no longer here. So it is not possible to replace this man – the man of humor, joy, loyalty and justice-- the likes of whom we shall not see again. But we will always cherish him in our memories.
Thank you for letting me speak about him here.