CORRECTION: National Taxpayers Union President John Berthoud, who died yesterday, was 45.
National Taxpayers Union President John Berthoud, praised as “the happy warrior of fiscal conservatism,” died yesterday. He was 45.
Mr. Berthoud, who had headed NTU since 1997, was found in his Arlington home yesterday by two NTU employees after he failed to show up for work, a spokesman for the organization said. He appeared to have died of natural causes, said Pete Sepp, vice president for communications at NTU.
“He shaped our entire culture and mission at NTU,” Mr. Sepp said, reporting that the group had received “hundreds of e-mails and telephone calls not only from the Washington area but from around the country” sending condolences.
Leaders of major free-market organizations paid tribute to Mr. Berthoud.
We fought a number of important battles side by side with John over the years,” said former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, chairman of FreedomWorks. “Freedom has lost a champion.
Mr. Berthoud was a “great guy” who “stood up for taxpayers in a town that views taxpayers as chumps,” added Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
“He was the kind of guy who made things happen and put things together,” said Fred Smith, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Mr. Berthoud served on the board of the American Conservative Union, where Executive Vice President J. William Lauderback said, His absence from the conservative movement will be profoundly felt.
In an e-mail message to Mr. Berthoud’s friends yesterday, the NTU Foundation staff said, Though we mourn the loss of a man and celebrate his amazing life filled with love, study, travel, and leadership, his cause and a hope for a brighter future lives on. We will press on with purpose and be thankful for his contributions to our own journeys.
A 1983 graduate of Georgetown University, Mr. Berthoud received a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University in 1985 and earned his doctorate in political science from Yale University in 1992. A contributing editor for Human Events, he was an adjunct lecturer at George Washington University, teaching graduate courses on budgetary policy and politics.
Mr. Berthoud was known for his willingness to help others in the free-market movement. Frances B. Smith said she often sought Mr. Berthoud’s assistance during her 12 years as executive director of Consumer Alert. “I’d call up John and he’d say, ‘How can we help?’ He was brilliant and yet completely unpretentious.”
John Berlau, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at CEI, said Mr. Berthoud worked closely with grass-roots activists.
“John was the happy warrior of fiscal conservatism,” said Mr. Berlau, who was a reporter for Insight magazine when he first met Mr. Berthoud. “He always made sure to take the message of low taxes and limited government beyond the Beltway. … He made networking with state policy groups a priority and influenced others to follow in his footsteps in this area. John will be sorely missed, but his positive influence will be long felt.
Mr. Berthoud is survived by his mother and two brothers. Plans for a memorial service will be announced later, Mr. Sepp said.
•Ralph Z. Hallow contributed to this story.
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