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Patriot applied expertise to U.S., foreign policy

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An undated image of Dan McMichael.

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Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 6:15 p.m.

R. Daniel McMichael was the expert that other experts often turned to when a particularly vexing situation arose involving foreign policy issues or national security and defense matters.

But his immersion in policy discussions didn't prevent him from penning a novel and occasional newspaper columns.

“Mr. McMichael was an extraordinary individual,” said Baker Spring, the F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.

“He was great at providing a sense of direction on where we needed to go on national security in general, and ballistic missile defenses in particular. He also was equally adept at communicating with both the Washington policy community, as well as with people in other parts of the country who don't look at the issues as closely as they are examined in Washington.”

Mr. McMichael, 87, of Shadyside died on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. He was the longtime secretary of two Pittsburgh philanthropies — the Sarah Scaife Foundation and The Carthage Foundation — and served as the administrative agent for the Scaife Family Charitable Trusts until their 1984 termination.

“Dan was a dear friend, a tremendous ally and a true patriot,” said Tribune-Review publisher Dick Scaife. “We worked closely together for nearly a half-century on national security, economics, foreign policy and other matters vital to our nation.

“He was a man who understood in great detail the world situation and all its players therein,” Scaife said. “He worked closely over the years with many of our nation's leading figures on the most complex issues, and I heard often how much they respected his expertise.

”His knowledge, dedication and love for America were unparalleled – and they, like he, will be greatly missed.”

An Air Force veteran who served in the South Pacific, Mr. McMichael graduated from DePauw University in Indiana in 1949, then vaulted from a public affairs career with the United States Steel Corp. into the role of policy consultant.

In 1980, he chaired President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Minerals Task Force and later advised the executive branch and Congress on strategic resource issues.

Mr. McMichael served on the boards of the National Strategy Information Center; the International Securities Studies Program of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts; and the Center of Strategic and International Studies.

His interest in international affairs was underscored by his role as past president of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and chairman of the Executive Committee on the Prague Security Studies Institute.

“He was a great patriot who worked hard to advance the strengthening of the United States,” said Robert Pfaltzgraff, professor of international security studies at Tufts' Fletcher School, who knew Mr. McMichael for five decades. “His life's work was to look at the importance of a strong foreign policy as a basis for freedom at home.”

Allan Meltzer, an economist and professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, recalled McMichael as “an extremely intelligent, very hard-working person, very much concerned with defense issues. He worked with people on cybersecurity issues long before that became popular.

In addition to writing intermittent newspaper pieces, Mr. McMichael wrote the 1967 novel “The Journal of David Q. Little,” a dystopian tale about the erosion of liberty in America. The book was reissued last year.

Mr. McMichael is survived by his daughter, Marcia Miller, of North Carolina and three grandchildren. His wife, Margaret, died in 2005.

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