New Jersey Hall of Fame

njhof-logoWhile I am remembering Millicent Fenwick today, February 25, her birthday, I wanted to share news announced last month; she will be inducted into New Jersey’s Hall of Fame on May 6, 2018.

“Induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame is the highest civilian honor that our state can bestow on someone,” said Gov. Murphy in a statement. “It’s a celebration of New Jersey that inspires the next generation of New Jersey leaders. Our inductees remind us how so many of our citizens have transformed the world, and how proud we should be of that fact as New Jerseyan.”

Fenwick will be in good company. Other inductees this year include Meryl Streep, The Four Seasons, Gloria Gaynor, Debbie Harry, Stevie Van Zandt, Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, Writer Anna Quindlen, and former pitcher Al Leiter. Congrats to all the inductees, a complete list is below:

Arts and letters

Author Harlan Coben (Ridgewood)
Author and journalist Anna Quindlen (South Brunswick)


Real estate developer Jon F. Hanson (Far Hills)
Publisher Steve Forbes (Morristown)
Businessman Joe Buckelew (Manasquan)

Performing arts

Actress Meryl Streep (Summit)
Musician Stevie Van Zandt  (Middletown)
Musician Gloria Gaynor (Newark)
Musicians The Four Seasons, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Joe Long (Newark)
Reality TV star Buddy Valastro (Hoboken)
Musician Debbie Harry (Hawthorne)

Public service

Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly (West Orange)
Medicine  Clara Maass (East Orange)
Politician Millicent Fenwick (Bernardsville)


Baseball Al Leiter (Berkeley Township).
Track and field Mary Decker (Bunnvale)

There will also be an “unsung hero” inductee announced in April.


Silver Anniversary


Last week, perhaps in remembrance of the victims of September 11, someone is Bernardsville adorned the Millicent Fenwick statue with a red, white, and blue scarf as captured in the photo above by Debbie Weisman for The Bernardsville News.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Millicent Fenwick passed away quietly in her Bernardsville home on September 16, 1992.  She died much as she lived; her way. She was 82-years-old and age was taking its toll on her frail body. She had emphysema, arterial disease and deteriorating eyesight.

Realizing that her body was failing her, there were three things she wanted to do before she died. She wanted to see a dear friend of hers, Jane Engelhard, widow of Charles W.Engelhard, Jr., a metal magnate worth millions who owned thoroughbreds, including the 1970 English Triple Crown Winner. He also knew Ian Fleming and the James Bond character, Goldfinger, is said to be based on Engelhard. Jane split her time between several homes, including one in neighboring Far Hills, NJ. She returned to New Jersey to pay a visit to Fenwick on the afternoon of September 15.

The day before, on September 14, Fenwick accomplished the second thing on her list; to donate a diamond and emerald ring which she inherited. The ring has been given to her cousin by Lord William Waldorf Astor and was appraised at $13,000. Fenwick wanted to donate the ring to the Newark Museum, but the director of the museum had been on vacation and didn’t return until September 14. Fenwick wasted no time in calling him that day and made arrangements to not only donate the ring, but to have the museum pick-up the ring that day and bring her a dated receipt. The Newark Museum later sold the ring at auction for $49,000 and created a jewelry section in the museum.

The last thing Fenwick wanted to do before she died, was to pay all her bills including her quarterly taxes. That was easier to accomplish. With the bills paid, the ring donated, and the visit with Jane Engelhard, Fenwick had accomplished everything on her list.

Next, on the evening of September 15, she called a registered nurse to come over and relieve her caregiver of two years. Fenwick knew that according to New Jersey law only a doctor or registered nurse could sign a death certificate. Her regular caregiver was a licensed practical nurse, not a registered nurse. In the predawn hours of Wednesday, September 16, with the registered nurse at her home, Fenwick passed away on her own terms. She lived a full life, but she was ready to leave this earth. For her epitaph she chose this passage from Micah “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”


Protecting the Constitution

4th-of-july-flagYesterday the New York Daily News ran an op-ed by Harlan Levy entitled “A playbook for state AGs to defeat Trump.” Levy opens with this: “Now more than ever, state attorney generals are the last line of defense against the excesses of the President in Washington. This is a welcome development — but the expectations are high and the challenges many.”

He talks about how Republican state AG’s did the same thing during the Obama Administration that Democratic state AG’s are doing now, but regardless of party their efforts need to be based on facts and not politics. My favorite line in the article is this; “In the heyday of the Justice Department, Robert F. Kennedy and Nicholas Katzenbach stood for the federal Constitution and federal law. Now it will be state AGs.”

It’s nice to see Katzenbach’s tenure at the Justice Department remembered, particularly as we celebrate Independence Day. He loved this country and the Constitution that guides this nation. Katzenbach’s favorite class at Princeton University was about the constitution and taught by constitutional scholar and author Edward Corwin. Corwin’s book, The Constitution and What it Means Today,  first published in 1920 and followed by several updates and editions, was what Katzenbach referred to as “the best single book on the U.S. Constitution. …  beautifully written for laymen.”

As we celebrate the founding of this nation and the Declaration of Independence, I’m thinking (and, yes, still writing) about Nicholas Katzenbach.

Happy Birthday, Millicent

millicent-fenwickI cannot let today end without remembering Millicent Fenwick who was born on February 25, 1910 and passed away in 1992, yet she is still in the news. Earlier this week, in a letter to the editor published in the Madison Eagle, Judith Campbell wrote an open letter to her Congressman, Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). In it she wrote:

“I have been a lifelong Democrat but always voted for the person, not necessarily the party. That included voting for (Republican) Millicent Fenwick. After Millicent, I remember the years I voted for your esteemed father, Peter Frelinghuysen, who also held this Congressional seat. They were diligent representatives of their constituents, reflecting the values of their voters and adding their ideas to legislation for the betterment of our towns and the country as a whole. I was never concerned about voting for them. You see, my values matched theirs in nearly every instance, and where we differed I was sure that they would negotiate legislation in a way to match the majority of their district. … Patriots such as your father and Millicent would be working hard to save our democracy. Where are you, Congressman Frelinghuysen? Will you help save the values of freedom and liberty that were the foundation of our country, or will you turn a blind eye to fascism in order to curry favor or, worst yet, wield power?”

For those of you interested in learning more about Millicent Fenwick, next weekend the Long Hill Library (917 Valley Road, Gillette, NJ) will be offering a program entitled “Secret Agents of Change: Famous Women in Morris County History” at noon on Saturday, March 4, 2017 to celebrate Women’s History Month. Women who will be featured include Geraldine Dodge, Helen Fenske, and Millicent Fenwick.

Ivana and Hillary

unnamedFor many people who live and work inside the beltway the day after the election was a day of mourning and shock. To distract myself, after work I headed to the Library of Congress where I am fortunate to have a research office. It’s on the top floor of the Adams Building and provides a bird’s eye view of Capitol Hill. There is a church and steeple in the foreground and RFK Stadium in the distance.

As I settled in, I pulled a bound volume of Vanity Fair off my bookshelf. It was from 1992. The article I needed was in the April issue, but the May issue caught my eye. Plastered on the cover was Ivana Trump and a blaring headline “Ivana Be a Star! Ms. Trump’s Literary Debut.” And then in the lower right hand corner was a red banner with yet another headline. This one was about Hillary Clinton—“Will she get to the White House with Bill or without him?” Nearly a quarter century later, and after two failed presidential bids, we finally know the answer. No, Hillary Clinton will not get to the White House on her own. But who could have guessed in 1992 that in 2016 these two women would be connected by a presidential election – the ex-husband of Ivana would be running against Hillary Clinton for the highest office in the land. I kept reading.

These two profiles about two very different women were literally back-to-back. I started reading the Ivana article and was transported to her jet-setting life style, boyfriend at the time, Riccardo Mazzucchelli, who gave her a ten-karat-yellow-diamond ring from Tiffany, and later became her husband for nearly two years. The magazine cover talked about her debut novel, but all the article said about the book was that it sounded eerily similar to the author; it was about a Czechoslovakian born skier married to an American Tycoon, runs a hotel and goes through a long, drawn-out divorce (p. 130). The rest of the article was a profile of Ivana, her early life in Czechoslovakia, her past loves before Donald (and after), and her jet-setting life.

There were two things I found of particular interest; the first was this quote: “The most important thing in Ivana’s life is publicity,” says a New York social figure. “She’s exactly like Donald in that way. They live for publicity. It’s a drug for them” (p. 178). Donald Trump’s comfort in the spotlight and his adeptness at managing it to his advantage were seen throughout his presidential campaign. Trump was so effective at garnering media attention that his campaign did not need to spend the millions upon millions that presidential candidates typically spent on television advertising.

The other thing I found interesting was Ivana talking about her children and how they lived with her. Throughout the campaign, Trump was credited for raising three great children. Even Hillary gave him credit for that much, yet no one ever mentioned Ivana.

During the interview, writer Bob Colacello asked Ivana about accusations that she traveled too much and didn’t spend enough time with her three children. “’That’s the only thing that really upsets me terribly,’ she answered. ‘I spend all the time with them. The children are living with me … so I think I’m a terrific mother. I’m very proud of that.’ My mother is always around and my two nannies which are around—not that they could replace me, by no means. (p. 182).

Her three children are now grown and have been center-stage this political season with Ivanka shining above all and trying to ease the gaffes her father makes. At the time the article was published she was just ten and described as “tall and pretty and blonde and quick with the sarcasm.” (P. 190). When asked what Ivanka wanted to do when she grew up, she “smiled brightly, she answered, ‘The same as Mom.’

img_3086From the glitzy world of Ivana Trump I was transported to the politically savvy world of Hillary Clinton during Bill’s first run for the presidency. This article was entitled “What Hillary Wants: How many touch choices has Hillary Clinton had to make along the road to the White House?” by Gail Sheehy. That headline reverberates true today despite being more than two decades old.

Sheehy writes “The most controversial figure of the election year so far has been a woman, Hillary Clinton, and she isn’t running for office. Or is she? Whether she loves the boy in Bill Clinton as much as the man or whether she is simply unwilling to forfeit her sixteen years’ investment in their political partnership, Hillary is determined to seize the national stage.” (p. 140).

The article goes on to describe how she headlined a luncheon fundraiser in Los Angeles and she left the audience wanting more. As “Hillary dazzled the audience … she said ‘We need to be against brain-dead politics wherever we find it!’ she thundered, looking fierce in a fire engine red suit. ‘We need to forge a new consensus about [our] new political direction … that doesn’t jerk us to the right, jerk us to the left, prey on our emotions, engender paranoia and insecurity … but instead moves us forward together.” (P. 142). I can hear her saying the same thing today. Well, maybe she’s more polished and would use a synonym for ‘jerk.’ But what that quote also demonstrates is Hillary’s consistent message and focus over the years.

When the Vanity Fair article was written, Hillary’s rejection of baking cookies was national news as was Gennifer Flowers. Yet despite those crises, Hillary triumphed and continued to impress those around her. Many talked about her running for president, and here we are. She finally did. How devastating this loss must be for her. The one thing this article drove home for me was that her sights have been on the presidency for much longer than I realized.

“’She wants to win as bad as he does.’ Is she tougher than he is? ‘I think so,’ laughs Carolyn Huber [long-time aide and confidante]. ‘She’s more clear about what she wants and the way she wants it done. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when Hillary set her mind to something she wanted to happen that it hasn’t happened.’” [P. 145]. It seems that time has come.

Who would have thought a Vanity Fair magazine from nearly 25 years ago would still have so much relevance today. So much for escaping the election.

Bob Colacello. “Ivana Czechs In,” Vanity Fair, May 1992, p. 134-138, p. 178-190.

Gaily Sheehy. “What Hillary Wants: How many touch choices has Hillary Clinton had to make along the road to the White House?,”Vanity Fair, May 1992, p. 140-147, 212-217.

Another Anniversary

Millicent Fenwick CoverToday, September 16, marks the 24th anniversary of the passing of Millicent Fenwick. Earlier this month her nemesis, Phyllis Schlafly, passed away. The two women went head to during a televised national debate about the Equal Rights Amendment  (ERA) in 1976. At the time, Fenwick was a member of the GOP Platform Committee at the 1976 Republican Convention and Schlafly was the Stop ERA national chairwoman. Below is an excerpt from Millicent Fenwick: Her Way capturing the exchange between the pair:

“I think it is sad and a little comic that in a bicentennial year to be wondering about whether we ought to admit that 51%-52% of the Citizens of America are really citizens,” said Fenwick during the Schlafly debate. “When ERA started I thought oh sure, and I didn’t take it too seriously, it seemed so natural. I thought it was an oversight, but now as a result of all the opposition so cleverly orchestrated by my companion here, I am getting quire severe about it. We need the ERA because it is a statement that women are citizens.”

But as Schlafly pointed out, “The Majority of women in your state voted against the ERA … They know women are citizens and do no need ERA which will do all sorts of mischievous things like ban mother-daughter banquets in school and subject women to the draft because ERA requires that we treat men and women equally.”

The ERA Amendment did not pass, in large measure  due to Schlafly’s efforts opposing the measure.



Happy Birthday, Millicent

56cf67328a0fe.imageA few hours ago, Millicent Fenwick’s hometown newspaper, The Bernardsville News, posted a photo of the Millicent Fenwick statue at the train startion in the heart of town entitled “Millicent Dressed for the Weather.” It was accompanied by this caption:

“We are glad to see someone is watching over our beloved former Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick whose statue graces the sidewalk near the Bernardsville Train Station. The scarf no doubt is just the ticket in this blustery, late winter weather. But the shoe? Beats us.”

IMG_8952What the newspaper probably didn’t realize is that today would have been Millicent Fenwick’s 106th birthday. Clearly someone with a sense of humor remembered the significance of February 25th. Why the shoes? Because Garry Trudeau famously depicted Lacey Davenport in a Doonsebury election year cartoon that read “Davenport: As indispensable as sensible shoes.” On the bottom it said “Paid for by her chums.” This Trudeau original hung proudly in Millicent Fenwick’s bathroom.

Although she passed away in 1992, she is not forgotten. Happy Birthday, Millicent!