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May 8, 2009

Jack Kemp's Spiritual Secret

Peggy Noonan provides a loving tribute to "an optimist not in the modern and prevalent sense of being too stupid to know things can go bad, but in a way that suggested an informed sunniness."

Jack Kemp died this week at the age of 73. According to columnist Peggy Noonan, the late NFL quarterback, congressman from Buffalo, HUD secretary, and vice presidential candidate was spiritually grounded and supported by a praying wife, Joanne.

She picked their first house because it was near her church, Fourth Presbyterian in Bethesda, Md. For 38 years she's led a Christian study group that meets every Friday morning at her home. She did the same in Buffalo. "He was the power of political ideas, she was the power of spiritual ones," says their son. She has devoted her time and energy to friends, neighbors, husband, Prison Fellowship, groups that advocate for the unborn, four children and 17 grandchildren. She is one of those who quietly make it possible for Washington to function, however imperfectly, as a real and coherent community.

Once before I was to give a big speech, I saw her in the audience and told her I felt nervous. "Then we must pray," she said, and did, unselfconsciously, with focus, in a gray folding chair in a cavernous auditorium with hundreds of people milling about. That's who was behind Jack Kemp. No wonder he did what he did.

Comments

That's good to read. I hadn't heard anything about Mrs. Kemp before.

Reading this post makes me wonder: If folks were more aware of how prayer influences politics, would a wedge be driven deeper or taken out?

What a pithy, moving tribute to a man and his wife! Thank you, Peggy. You gave me an insiders glimpse of a real family, a counter-culture pair in the ways that count.