The news that Phyllis Schlafly has died at the age of 92 is sad for all conservatives. Many of us were strongly influenced by Phyllis—not only from her writings and speeches, but from personal relationships with her.
I was given a copy of her book “A Choice, Not an Echo” by my first boss, Haskell Jones, the manager of KXAR Radio in Hope, AR when I was barely 15 years old. It was very instrumental in cementing my belief in limited government and the power of a Constitutional Republic.
Years later, becoming first Lt. Governor and then Governor of Arkansas, I became personally acquainted with Phyllis and even was honored by her in receiving an award at the annual meeting of her widely influential Eagle Forum. I always loved to tell her and remind her of the influence of her book on a young teen’s life living in obscurity in Hope, Arkansas and she loved hearing it.
There was a painful period of our relationship about ten years ago when some people angry with me over some policy positions in Arkansas convinced Phyllis I wasn’t “conservative enough.” Sadly there was a period in which she believed it. I continued to love and respect her, even when she was not speaking favorably of me. Fortunately, thanks to her son Andy, and Ed Martin, and others who presented Phyllis with facts, Phyllis came to realize she had been filled with inaccurate information from people with their own agenda. She again warmly embraced me as one of her “students” and for the rest of her life, I was blessed to be invited by her to speak at several Eagle Forum events and appear with her at conferences on many occcasions.
She was brilliant, tough, tenancious, and driven by absolute adherence to principle and not to personalities. I will miss her personally, but the conservative cause has lost its matriarch. And there is no one even close to replacing her. God bless you Phyllis, for changing the world!