Today liberty lost one of its truest champions, and I – along with many others – have lost a dear and beloved friend. Andrea Millen Rich has died.
Just typing these words brings tears to my eyes. Literally.
Although I’d long before known of Andrea and her remarkable husband, Howie, I met them only in 1997. They quickly became two of my very favorite people.
Everyone who knew Andrea treasured her and respected her frankness, valued her uncommonly good good sense, and admired her joie de vivre.
To Howie, I send my most heartfelt condolences. And with all of Andrea’s and Howie’s many friends, I join not only in mourning the passing of a great lady but also in celebrating her life of countless accomplishments, big and small.
Andrea, I will miss you more than I can say. We will all miss you beyond words.
Earlier this year, I was honored to be among a group of people asked to contribute a letter to a volume celebrating Andrea’s life. I don’t know if that volume is public, so I won’t share it here now, but I will share my letter. It is here:
Andrea Rich was known to me long before I met her. Because I had a large and ever-growing trade deficit with Laissez Faire Books, I was keenly aware of the goings-on of that tiny but utterly essential enterprise on Manhattan’s Mercer Street. I believe that it was when Andrea bought Laissez Faire Books and breathed new life into it that I first heard of her. Still one of the most vivid images that I have of Andrea is an LFB catalog photo of her leaning confidently on a stack of books. That picture assured me (and many others) that here is a woman who means business. LFB was in good hands.
I was correct. Meeting Andrea – and Howie – very soon after I became president of the Foundation for Economic Education in August 1997, I’d found new and treasured friends who, at the same time, never hesitated to offer straightforward, and always sound, advice.
Fortunately for me (and for FEE) it didn’t take long for Andrea to then join FEE’s Board of Directors. She quickly became the board member on whom I leaned the most for counsel and guidance. She never failed me, even when I sought – as I often did – counsel and guidance on matters far removed from those of FEE’s operations.
I suppose that I’m like nearly every other human being: there are some people whom I dislike being around, many people whom I don’t mind being around but also whose company I don’t especially treasure, and a very small number whose company I can never get enough of. I just did a count in my head. Excluding close family members, the number of people who are in this third and last category for me is so small that Andrea and Howie together make up about 20 percent of the group. And they are indeed in this group.
Andrea’s forthrightness, her insight, her knowledge, her intelligence, her warmth, her graciousness, her sincerity, and her integrity combine with her sense of humor to make her one fabulous lady and one truly special friend.
Since typing the previous paragraph my fingers have dangled helplessly over my keyboard as my mind searches long and hard for words to express my admiration for, and love of, Andrea Rich. I’m uncharacteristically unable to find words that are appropriate. So I content myself by saying, far too inadequately, to Andrea: “You, my dear, dear friend, are more special than you know, more treasured than you suspect, and more admired than any but a special, minuscule handful of human beings have any cause to be admired. You are one helluva gal!”
George Mason University