A Year of Mourning

“You’re doing a great job, Kiddo.”

Across the phone line his deep and gentle voice would settle on one’s shoulders like a warm pat on the back.

In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis wrote of the nature of friendship:

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).  The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” …  In this kind of love, as Emerson said, Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth?—or at least Do you care about the same truth?  The man who agrees with us that some important question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend.  He need not agree with us about the answer.”

And so, while inviting us to share his big questions about whether and how our social institutions might become better fitted to allow men and women to flourish and be free, he also came alongside us and listened to our own questions.  He had a gift for befriending, and in being a friend, authenticating each individual’s quest for understanding.  Through time and conversation his questions shaped our own, but as for answers, he demanded no orthodoxy.  The blessing of his friendship was the opportunity to learn together.

He modeled for us a zeal for liberty constrained by charity, as well as the pursuit of truth with integrity unmarred by ideology. He called us to be better scholars, better observers, better citizens, better selves. And he was a consistent and positive encourager.

Richard Cornuelle, the founder and ongoing intellectual inspiration for the work of The Philanthropic Enterprise, passed away April 26, 2011, at the age of 84.  Our year of mourning draws to an end, but our remembrance of Dick, and our participation in his questions, will long continue.

I pray that in the halls of heaven he has heard a Deeper and Gentler Voice say, “You did a great job, Kiddo.”