Speakers at Scaife memorial herald his generosity, unwavering commitment
Dedicated journalist. Generous donor. Committed friend.
Speakers remembered Trib Total Media owner Dick Scaife as those and more during a memorial held on Sunday at Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier.
Scaife, owner of the Tribune-Review and its associated daily and weekly newspapers, died on July 4, a day after his 82nd birthday.
The 200 guests at the three-hour program included Gov. Tom Corbett and his Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf; U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler; state Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport; colleagues from the business, political, foundation and charitable communities; longtime friends; and employees, most of whom worked for Scaife for decades.
Attorney Yale Gutnick, who represented Scaife for nearly 40 years and succeeded him as chairman of Trib Total Media, recalled that former President Bill Clinton praised Scaife as a man who “fought as hard as he could for what he believed.”
Clinton spoke a week earlier to more than 150 of Scaife's newspaper employees during a similar service at Penguin Court, the publisher's boyhood home near Ligonier.
Gutnick described that speech as “a remarkable message of reconciliation” and “one of the most remarkable interfacings of politics and journalism,” given the bitter battle between the two men during Clinton's presidency.
He described Scaife as “a quiet, very shy man who also had very strong convictions” — including a commitment to sustain his newspapers beyond his death.
Commitment became the theme echoed by each speaker.
St. Vincent Archabbot Douglas Nowicki recalled how he and Scaife once visited Holy Rosary School in Homewood, one of many inner-city schools that benefited from Scaife's donations to the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese's Extra Mile Foundation.
That “great support” was “an important part of his life … it wasn't a passing fancy,” Nowicki said.
Ed Feulner, retired president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, said Scaife “never lost his belief in America as ‘the land of the free, the home of the brave' … even when he was being attacked by his political enemies.”
“Dick deeply believed in the primacy of the West … he wanted to stop the decline of the West,” which led him to become “one of the most significant long-term supporters” of Heritage, Feulner said.
He recounted trips abroad the two men took, and how Scaife had “a staggering pile” of foreign newspapers sent to his hotel room to examine. Here was a publisher “who knew the difference between Bodoni Bold and Times-Roman (typefaces) and why they used it,” he said.
Tom Sanderson, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, described Scaife as “part of the force that brought down several empires” — most notably, the Soviet Union — and “a force around the world” with his support of freedom and democracy.
He said the publisher helped to found and continued to fund CSIS, “directly enabling” its detailed study of terrorism — an effort that has helped U.S. forces to fight terrorist groups. Scaife also funded studies of looming cyber threats “a full decade before” those became commonplace, Sanderson said.
A more personal portrait came from Jim Roddey, a close friend and Allegheny County's first chief executive.
“He was passionate about life … about the newspaper business,” and such personal interests as art, architecture, history, historic preservation, and horticulture, Roddey said.
“And he was passionate about Pittsburgh.”
Roddey recalled the two men touring the local Salvation Army's operations, with Scaife serving food in one of the charity's soup kitchens. Afterward, Scaife sent the group “the largest check I have ever seen.”
“He had friends from every station of life … above all, he valued loyalty and honesty,” Roddey said.
Other friends who spoke were former television journalist and diplomat Richard Carlson; Patrick Wallace, president of Covington Investment Advisors, Ligonier; and Judy O'Toole, director of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
In one of the memorial's many light-hearted stories, O'Toole recalled slyly trying to persuade Scaife to donate two John Kane paintings he once loaned the museum. Scaife thanked her for the idea but “he said, ‘I'm still using them.' ”
But, as O'Toole admitted, she won out in the end: Upon his death, Scaife donated those and other cherished Kane works — and the rest of his extensive art collection — to the Westmoreland and to the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadd's Ford.