Written by Jeff Harris (Eve's father-in-law) to Fred's daughter Eve Dutton
June 26, 2005
very sorry to learn from Greg's EMail notification that Fred had passed away.
Although I know that you indicated his condition was grave after the second
stroke, I had harbored some hope that the new treatments developed since my Dad
died in 1986 of a series of strokes that they would be successful. But even if
they had, he might not have been happy with the limitations that brain attacks
impose. So now I trust he is in a better place and enjoying the new perspective
he has been given.
For the rest of us, he will be missed. Each of us sees people and knows them in different ways. You of course saw him as a father; the boys knew him as one of their two (later three) grandfathers; Greg dealt with him as a father-in-law. There is even a name for the relationship of your father and mother to Barbara and me in Yiddish—I am not sure of the agreed transliteration, but it comes out sounding like "muchatainestum." The word is intended to mean the parents of your child's spouse. There is no single such word in English. Shame. It is a useful way to refer to someone. It always conveys to me an equality of position and status. But in your Dad's case and in mine, it wasn't.
Your Dad has always been one of my heroes, a person I admired from almost the start of my professional career. You know the story well, but for the record I first met Fred when he was Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations in President Kennedy's White House--a guy at the top of the hierarchy while I was at the bottom of the structure as a new foreign service officer with a brand new baby who would later become your husband. Fred assigned me to Jimmy Roosevelt's office on an internship at Jimmy's request. That was routine; then when Jimmy asked that my assignment be extended (I was free labor doing what I presumed was good work) Fred wanted to meet me.
After all, Jimmy was then a Congressman but had run for Governor of California while your Dad was a rising star in the Democratic party. Who was this guy in the bowels of the State Department getting this kind of attention from someone of Jimmy's stature? So I met your Dad in his office on the 6th Floor of the State Department, we had a brief chat about California politics, and then he sent me off to do him and the Department proud on the Hill.
He was as kind to me then and as interested in everything I had to say as he would be years later at your wedding. He had a knack that I have always admired, would have loved to learn to emulate, but have always fallen short of the model he set. He treated everyone as if they were the President of the United States; he treated every word they uttered as if it were coming from the Pope. I can't tell you how important he always made me feel and how thrilled I was that my ideas seemed to make an impression on him. I remember that he kindly attended a function I organized in Washington for the Panamanians. I introduced him to a few Panamanian officials and then watched him move through the crowd of dignataries and personages like the Queen at her garden parties. Even if he didn't know them, he indicated it was his loss and wanted to make amends right there, on the spot. It was a wonderful attribute for a person of his standing and influence.
So I will miss him, but I will also have these experiences and this wonderful memory of him to cherish. There are few people who have trod the public stage that can say they really made a difference, they were a change element. I think of your Dad in this way. I know you, the boys, and Greg will miss him as well, but again in different ways. In the English tradition, I wish you a long life.
Barbara joins me in sending our condolences and our love to everyone on Glasgow Lane.
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