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Oct 31, 2010 10:36 pm

Theodore Sorensen, top JFK aide, dies at 82

Sorenson & Kennedy


  • Theodore Sorensen, top JFK aide, dies at 82 in NY: Theodore C. Sorensen, the studious, star-struck aide to President John F. Kennedy whose crisp, poetic turns of phrase helped idealize and immortalize a tragically brief administration, died Sunday. He was 82. He died at noon at Manhattan's New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center from complications of a stroke, his widow, Gillian Sorensen, said. Sorensen had been in poor health in recent years and a stroke in 2001 left him with such poor eyesight that he was unable to write his memoir,"Counselor," published in 2008. Instead, he had to dictate it to an assistant. President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he was saddened to learn of Sorensen's death.
    "I know his legacy will live on in the words he wrote, the causes he advanced, and the hearts of anyone who is inspired by the promise of a new frontier," Obama said.
    Hours after his death, Gillian Sorensen told The Associated Press that although a first stroke nine years ago robbed him of much of his sight,"he managed to get back up and going." She said he continued to give speeches and traveled, and just two weeks ago, he collaborated on the lyrics to music to be performed in January at the Kennedy Center in Washington — a symphony commemorating a half-century since Kennedy took office."I can really say he lived to be 82 and he lived to the fullest and to the last — with vigor and pleasure and engagement," said Gillian Sorensen, who was at his side to the last."His mind, his memory, his speech were unaffected." Her husband was hospitalized Oct. 22 after a second stroke that was"devastating," she said.... - AP, 10-31-10
  • Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy Counselor and Wordsmith, Dies at 82: Theodore C. Sorensen, one of the last living links to John F. Kennedy’s administration, who did much to shape the president’s narrative, image and legacy, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82.
    He died in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered a week ago, his wife, Gillian Sorensen, said. A previous stroke, in 2001, had taken away much of his eyesight, but in its aftermath"he led a very full life, speaking, writing, creating new enterprises and mentoring many young people," she added.
    Mr. Sorensen once said he suspected the headline on his obituary would read:"Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy Speechwriter," misspelling his name and misjudging his work, but he was much more. He was a political strategist and a trusted adviser on everything from election tactics to foreign policy.
    "You need a mind like Sorensen’s around you that’s clicking and clicking all the time," President Kennedy's archrival, Richard M. Nixon, said in 1962. He said Mr. Sorensen had"a rare gift": the knack of finding phrases that penetrated the American psyche.
    He was best known for working with Mr. Kennedy on passages of soaring rhetoric, including the 1961 inaugural address proclaiming that"the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans" and challenging citizens:"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Mr. Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill as he helped hone and polish that speech.... - NYT, 10-31-10
  • JFK Adviser Theodore Sorensen (1928-2010): A Remembrance: When I first told my Uncle Ted that I was engaged, he asked without hesitation,"Is she a Democrat?" He was only half joking. It's not that Theodore C. Sorensen, my father's brother and the man known as the"intellectual blood bank" of President John F. Kennedy was an ideologue; he merely believed to his core that the vision of his party was crucial to the future of his family, his country and his world. And well he should — it was he, through his collaboration with Kennedy, that most elegantly and timelessly gave voice to the Democratic ideals that have come to shape modern American politics. The last of the Kennedy old guard, Sorensen was a tireless defender of his legacy. Never, privately or publicly in the years since, did he take credit for the words or actions that made the 35th President an icon of the office. The many accounts of his intimacy with the political, personal and policy decisions of Kennedy's tenure are a testament both to the humility of the man, and his unwavering belief that what he accomplished was far more than professional triumph.... - Time, 10-31-10

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