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Ted Sorensen, JFK Speechwriter, Dead at 82



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Via the Boston Globe:

Theodore Chaikin Sorensen, whose prose mingled with the thoughts and words of his close friend John F. Kennedy to create some of the most memorable presidential speeches of the 20th century, has died, a week after suffering a stroke. He was 82 and despite a stroke nine years ago that left him nearly sightless, Mr. Sorensen had continued to be a vibrant link intellectually and philosophically to the Kennedy administration and the Camelot aura that defined the clan, launching the political careers of the president’s younger brothers, Robert and Edward.

Considered by many to be the premier presidential speechwriter of his lifetime — some thought him the best ever — Mr. Sorensen played significant roles in crafting JFK’s enduring speeches, including his 1961 inaugural address, and the president’s book “Profiles in Courage,” which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1957.

Officially, Ted Sorensen was special counsel to the president, a role he reprised with Lyndon B. Johnson. Mr. Sorensen worked so closely with Jack Kennedy, however, that he became widely regarded as the president’s alter ego, liberal conscience, and intellectual confidante. Kennedy sought Mr. Sorensen’s counsel at every key juncture, from campaigning for the White House to guiding the country through perilous times such as the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis.

Here’s President Obama’s statement:

“I was so saddened to learn that Ted Sorensen passed away.  I got to know Ted after he endorsed my campaign early on. He was just as I hoped he’d be – just as quick-witted, just as serious of purpose, just as determined to keep America true to our highest ideals.

From his early days desegregating a Nebraska pool to his central role electing and advising President Kennedy to his later years as an international lawyer and advocate, Ted lived an extraordinary life that made our country – and our world – more equal, more just, and more secure. Generations of Americans entered public service aspiring to follow in his footsteps.

Even as I mourn his loss, 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. My heart goes out to his wife Gillian, his daughter Juliet, his sons, Eric, Stephen, and Philip, and the entire Sorensen family.”

More here from the New York Times.



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