All of us associated with The Steamboat Institute were deeply saddened to learn of the death Saturday of our dear friend Tony Blankley. As many of you know, Tony was the conference moderator for all of our Freedom Conferences, beginning with the inaugural Freedom Conference in 2009. He truly was “the face of The Steamboat Institute.” While Tony found that moniker to be humorous, it was absolutely true. Tony was extremely popular with those who attended our conferences. He brought humor and wit to the task, as well as his in-depth knowledge of policy, the inner workings of government and the political process. Tony will be sorely missed.
Tony brought to the Steamboat Institute his impressive resume and credibility. Tony had been a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and the editor of the Editorial Page of the Washington Times. Until his death, Tony was an executive vice president of Edelman (a public relations firm), a visiting senior fellow of the Heritage Foundation, a syndicated newspaper columnist and a regular commentator on Fox News, CNN, NBC and NPR. Tony was probably most well known for his service as press secretary for then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich from 1990 to 1997.
Tony was born in London, England, and was a naturalized citizen of the United States, having moved to the U.S. with his parents shortly after World War II. Tony’s father had been Winston Churchill’s accountant. Tony was a bit of a child actor, having appeared in USO shows, “Lassie,” “Highway Patrol” and “Make Room for Daddy,” as well as other TV programs and movies.
Tony was the first to understand what we were doing at The Steamboat Institute — taking citizen activists and potential citizen activists and giving them direct and personal exposure to nationally-recognized policy experts, pundits and political figures. Doing so gave these people the knowledge and inspiration that they need to be effective. Tony saw that this was good and that it would work. He saw that, in this time, this is how we have to fight for freedom. Tony, along with his beautiful wife, Lynda Davis, gave us their complete support before anyone else would. We owe them a debt that we can never repay.
When we learned Sunday about Tony’s death, we promptly composed an email for people coast to coast associated with The Steamboat Institute. In response, we have been inundated with an outpouring of condolences and expressions of grief from all across the country. The following, from a Freedom Conference presenter, is indicative of the reaction: “This is just such a blow, but we will resolve to sacrifice even more, now that one of our great lions has laid down for the final time.”
Tony Blankley was a great man and a great American.
All of us who are associated with The Steamboat Institute vow to re-double our efforts and keep up the good fight for our freedom. We know that is what Tony would want us to do.
Rest in peace, dear friend.
On behalf of the board of directors for The Steamboat Institute.