On the day after his 82nd birthday, on Independence Day to be precise, a giant passed away, Dick Scaife. The man had style. He departed decorously as the nation was happily celebrating its 238th birthday. His sense of style has not been often mentioned in the obituaries, nor have his wit and engaging warmth.
His philanthropy has been mentioned, though it is often his political philanthropy, not his cultural philanthropy. Dick came from a long line of philanthropists dating back to his grand uncle, President Calvin Coolidge’s secretary of the treasury Andrew Mellon. Dick generously supported medical research, various educational institutions, the National Gallery, a slew of Pittsburgh-based museums, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Toward the end of his life he donated to the Clinton Foundation and had a friendly meeting with Bill Clinton. He admired the President’s charitable work with the Clinton Foundation, and I have always believed he wanted to encourage Bill’s good side.