- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Tributes to Mary Lou Forbes appropriately have been in the finest tradition of an Irish wake, befitting her mother’s Gaelic ancestry.

Friends and colleagues have noted the sadness of her passing, but above all recalled the joy of her life, accomplishments, cheerful demeanor and positive influences on their lives. More than a few will remember her in a way she would appreciate: toasting her friendship and contributions to journalism and the Washington political scene, with a glass of wine, Guinness or Johnny Jameson.

I shall do so, as well, for she published my columns and encouraged my focus on energy, global warming, free market capitalism and malaria eradication. Mrs. Forbes (I never quite felt comfortable calling her anything else) enjoyed my articles and expressed regret that economic realities had caused The Washington Times to slim down its commentary pages.

Over the years, we chatted occasionally by phone, e-mail or in person at Washington events. Just three weeks ago, we sat together at the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner, largely ignoring the speakers - even the “taciturn” CEI president, Fred Smith. We did, however, pay rapt attention to keynote speaker John Allison, the BB&T; Corp. chairman whose success, integrity and forthright manner have long impressed both of us.

Mostly, we talked about politics, journalism, changes in Northern Virginia over the decades, her mother, husband and son, my own wife and children, my amazingly vigorous father (age 92), Irish music and step dancing, a column of mine that she still wanted to run, and our love of writing and editing. Then she gave me a hug, departed ahead of the drinks and cigars (she couldn’t keep the late hours she used to, she confided, and had a busy day coming up), and headed home.

I will always be grateful to CEI (and its current Warren Brooks scholar, Silvia Santacruz) for putting us at the same table. And I’ll always carry fond memories of Mrs. Forbes, her role in making The Washington Times (and The Washington Star) a forceful presence on the media/political scene, and her belief that my articles merited space in her fine paper.

I will miss her, but celebrate her life. There will certainly be another opinion pages editor at The Times. But there will never be another Mary Lou Forbes.

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality.

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