- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2001

Four-year knot

Every four years, the 500 or so guests of Washington's Four Seasons Hotel as well as other visitors to the city are all going to the same party.

Yes, Inaugural Week is finally upon us, and the Four Seasons' Tricia Messerschmitt says her hotel staff are so ready they're pouring Texas Spring Water to guests.

And in the "Oops, I Forgot It Category," Miss Messerschmitt says the hotel is prepared to rescue the black-tie crowd with 50 pairs of cufflinks and studs, 20 pairs of formal black gloves for women, one representative from Neiman Marcus for last-minute shopping needs, two seamstresses for last-minute repairs, and last, but never least, one designated bow tie-er.

Suburban siblings

Doro Bush-Koch is back, the sister of the future 43rd president of the United States and daughter of the 41st celebrating her brother's presidential inauguration with fellow Maryland Republicans.

A Potomac resident, Mrs. Bush-Koch will salute her older brother, George W. Bush, at the Maryland inaugural bash to be held at the National Chamber of Commerce Building, across Lafayette Park from the White House.

Mrs. Bush-Koch announced Maryland's support of George W. Bush at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

Another Bush sibling, younger brother Marvin, resides across the Potomac River in Virginia's Fairfax County.

Helms unplugged

The official story read that Sen. Jesse Helms, applying the concept of "compassionate conservatism" to foreign aid, proposed that the new Bush administration shut down the U.S. Agency for International Development and funnel assistance abroad through private and faith-based organizations.

What you didn't read is that Mr. Helms strayed from his prepared remarks last week to offer some personal asides.

Like when referring to President Clinton's foreign policy: "Not even good nonsense."

And on persistent rumors that the outspoken North Carolina Republican's health is failing: "That is just wishful thinking among the liberal media."

And foreign policy under the new Bush team: "No liberals need apply. The folks down at The Washington Post can just go cry in their beer."

Silent prayer

Regarding last Friday's observation that Uncle Sam won't allow prayer in public schools, yet the Social Security Administration was permitted to hold a "litany," or liturgical prayer service for its employees praising the "Lord God" more than a dozen times reader Roger J. Mertes reminds:

"As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools."

Rare bird

Washington bids goodbye and Godspeed to one of its most colorful characters, C.S. Taylor Burke Jr., the longtime president of Burke & Herbert Bank & Trust Co., who was often seen walking around Old Town Alexandria with a large macaw on his shoulder.

The handlebar-moustached Mr. Burke, who died Thursday just shy of his 77th birthday, kept a roost in his office for "Harvey," his workaday companion among three psittacine birds he owned in recent years. Harvey whistled loudly at women, "especially pretty ones," the bank president once noted.

The bank's official bird was a blue Amazon, "Runyon," but that parrot was banished from the office for biting.

"Parrots are like women: The older they are, the meaner they get," Mr. Burke had warned his friend, the late scribe Jeremiah O'Leary, who covered the White House for this newspaper and the old Washington Star.

That didn't stop the parrot from perching on Mr. Burke's shoulder when the latter was called to testify before a congressional banking committee on Capitol Hill. A few nights later, a photo of Mr. Burke and his bird was splashed across the screen of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," the anchor asking: "Would you trust this bank president with your money?"

"Taylor Burke is a rarity among today's bank presidents," Mr. O'Leary once wrote, describing his friend as a facsimile of actor Frank Morgan, who played the quasi-sorcerer in "The Wizard of Oz."

A native of Alexandria, Mr. Burke attended Yale when World War II began, leaving the university in 1943 to enlist in the Army. He became a commissioned officer in 1945 and served in the Philippines until mid-1946.

"The day after I got out of the Army, I went to work in the bank in the lowest job they had: filing checks for $1,400 a year," Mr. Burke said. He held almost every job in the bank before 1963, when he succeeded his father as president. His great-grandfather founded the bank in 1852.

"Banking used to be fun," Mr. Burke said a decade ago. "But now there are so many government regulations to observe that I have a full-time man who does nothing but keep the bank in conformity with the rules."

A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Alexandria.


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