Saturday, January 11, 2014

Larry Speakes, RIP

Larry Speakes has died. He was appointed Deputy Press Secretary under President Ronald Reagan in January 1981. Subsequent to his service in the White House,
Larry Speakes at the White House, The Washington Post
Mr. Speakes was employed by Merrill Lynch, Nothern Telecom and then the United States Postal Service.

Mr. Speakes was thrown into the limelight after John Hinckley's assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. On that dark, dreary day outside the service entrance to the Washington Hilton, Hinckley grievously wounded Reagan, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and DC Metropolitan police officer Thomas Delahanty, as well as shooting Speake's boss, White House Press Secretary James Brady, in the head. Brady suffered permanent, paralyzing injury that confines him to a wheelchair and permanently affected the portions of his brain controlling speech and emotion. From that point forward until he left for the private sector, Speakes handled White House daily press briefings and was Acting Press Secretary for the administration. Brady retained his title, and his position on the payroll, through the remainder of the Reagan administration.

I met Mr. Speakes towards the end of his career. I jogged during lunch hour.  He worked out. We became fitness center locker room acquaintances and engaged in the normal banter, even when, as I learned later from press reports, he had descended into the fog of Alzheimer's disease. Larry always had a smile and a kind word for everyone who crossed his path. He will be missed. Rest in peace Larry.  

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