Jack Kemp…Just a Great Guy!

What a week it was…America lost so much! Las Vegas lost an icon in Danny Gans, Hollywood lost Dom Deluise, and Republicans like myself lost a great man in Jack Kemp!

It’s tough to sit and write about folks that just passed away–of course this isn’t a happy topic, so writers like myself don’t particularly enjoy it. Although, as I was sitting outside with my Mother this morning discussing how short life is, it occurred to me that when someone passes we should celebrate what they brought to our lives while on this earth.

I was particularly saddened by the loss of Jack Kemp, whom I had the pleasure of meeting several times during my life. In fact, the last time I saw Jack Kemp, he was walking into the World Financial Center in New York City–I was heading out and we just bumped into each other. Jack and I had a mutual friend in Tom Weisner, who was one of the best men I have ever met. That morning in New York City, Jack and I lamented on the loss of Tom and chuckled on how much we missed eating his bratwurst. What was most humbling that morning 2 years ago was the fact that I hadn’t seen Jack in almost 5 years and he still remembered my name.

Having spent the better part of my adult life in politics, I have met a considerable number of former elected officials. Jack of course wasn’t just a former elected official, but a former candidate for Vice-President of the United States. What makes the loss of Jack Kemp so near and dear to my heart, is that it was his candidacy in 1996, when he served on the ticket with Bob Dole that got me started in politics. I was only 3 years out of high school then and had never entertained the idea of being involved in the political process. However, as I listened to Jack and Bob Dole give speeches leading up to the election, I was inspired for the first time in my life!

Two years later, I would meet Jack Kemp in Las Vegas who was in town raising money for the Republican Party. I had the opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes and he left me with a quote. “Stand for something you believe in, work hard, and never give up.” To this day, through all the trials and tribulations in my life, this quote from Jack always stuck with me. Believe it or not, there were a few times when I felt defeated, but I always had these kind and encouraging words from Jack to cling on-to.

Most of the news media has done a great job of honoring Jack Kemp this week with tributes and reminders of what he accomplished during his life, but I wanted to share a personal story. Young people seek to be inspired and find leaders they can model themselves after. For many young American’s in this country, Jack Kemp was that man. Jack was someone you could really look up to–he had strong character, unwavering convictions, and a heart of gold–I can’t think of anyone that would say otherwise.

Jack Kemp…Just a Great Guy! You’ll be missed!

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