P. Pearl O’Rourke, director of human research affairs at Partners Healthcare System, has been a longstanding member of PRIM&R's Board of Directors. We asked if she would share her thoughts with our readers on Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s recent passing.

In the mid-1990’s, I was a staff member in Senator Kennedy’s office. In the years following, our paths crossed several times and he always greeted me as if I had never left. Last Thursday, I stood on Cambridge Street in Boston as his motorcade traveled through Boston streets, I stood in line at the JFK Library, and I watched the television coverage of his funeral for hours. It seemed the least I could do.He was large in his largesse—my first day on the job well before I had done an iota of work, he welcomed me with a booming voice and heartily thanked me in advance for my help, my expertise, my yet-to-be-defined contributions.
As a staff member, I summarized issues, wrote memos, participated in briefings, staffed him at hearings. Most exciting were the work meetings with Senator Kennedy himself – when called to the office and asked to present facts and defend suggestions and opinions. One did not go in ill-prepared.But best memories are more personal. Going with him to NIH where he met with patients and families and displayed the most amazing mixture of compassion, respect, interest. He thanked them for their time and he humbly said that he needed their help and the insight of their life-experience. Walking down a corridor with him as he burst into song. Rushing out of the Capitol with him as he hurried to a waiting car. He was running late…but on the way to the car, in his peripheral vision he spied a sixth-grade field trip with a number of the kids shyly waving. He stopped—and like a magnet he was drawn to the kids. He wanted to know who they were, where they were from, what they had visited in DC. And then—how he would love to get some pictures with them. Kennedy assigned me as photographer and in an instant there was a puddle of 20 cameras at my feet. I took the same picture 20 times—Kennedy’s smile and esprit was the same in photo number 20 as it was on the first click. The kids loved it… the Senator loved it… I loved it. It was an honor being a part of his team.

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3 thoughts on “Remembering Ted Kennedy – a post from Pearl O’Rourke

  1. whitecollargreenspaceguy

    Our hearts and prayers are with the Kennedy family. They and our nation has suffered a great loss. The greatest tribute would be for all of us to continue to be pro-active in our fight to get universal health care.

    I have contacted the Waterkeeper Alliance to forward the following policy proposal to Robert F. Kennedy. This policy change could help seal the legacy for both Robert and Ted Kennedy as it could cover the uninsured and also cut the governments carbon footprint by 20% to 50%.
    The Government already has the funds to pay for Universal Health Care. It is time to stop the madness and violence at the health care reform meetings.
    Using shift work for white collar jobs could cut the cost of the 500 million square feet of office space currently in used by the federal government by up to 50%. This would save enough money to provide universal health care. It could also reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. For details go to:

    Now featured on http://www.buzzflash.com/ under the heading:
    "Using Shift work for white collar jobs to greatly reduce the fiscal and environmental cost of new office space"

    I believe that when this policy change is adopted by the federal government and the sates, it could have the greatest impact on our society, the economy, and the environment of any other event of Obama's first term. We are looking for a national spokesperson. If adopted by private industry, it would be like finding vast new reserves of oil and metals in the USA, enough to construct as many buildings as we have in the last 150 years. Almost all buildngs can be retro-fitted for the white collar work of the 21st century. It would also stop the giant sucking sound and make American workers competetive again in the global economy. Outsourcing and the movement of our jobs overseas could be reversed. I am working with the unions and environmental goups in Michigan to arrange a meeting with the governor to push this policy change and end the furloughs of state and local government employees.

    -It is time to stop the madness at the town hall meetings. The federal government already has the money to pay for universal health care. I have presented my proposal to Michigan congressman, Senators, and governor. Also the Whitehouse, CBO and several environmental groups, unions, and health care advocate groups. I am trying to put together a consortium as the plan will save jobs, save the environment, save money, and provide health insurance. It could have a greater positive impact on the environment than if we could snap our fingers and instantly change every car in the united States into a hybrid

    The fact that 50 million of our friends, neighbors, and relatives do not have health coverage is a human tragedy. See http://www.whitecollargreenspace.blogspot.com for an immediate solution. The government has the money right now to pay for it.
    Please post a comment if you do not think this will work or send me an email @ whitecollargreenspaceguy@hotmail.com, if you have questions. Please share this with everybody.