Posts Tagged ‘Beth Rickey’

In Memory of Elizabeth Rickey

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Inspired by the 9/16/09 Washington Post obituary “Republican Activist Thwarted Rise of David Duke” about Elizabeth Rickey, who died on 9/11/09 at age 53, bankrupted by healthcare costs. NB: The David Duke quote is and references to Beth’s house are poetic license.


Do you remember David Duke?

I do (the memory makes me want to puke).


Duke was a Louisiana Republican

Rising fast in the State GOP.

He used to be in the KKK but explained

“That is now behind me.”


Beth was troubled by his meteoric rise,

And in conversations with him found he still did despise

People different from him, especially Blacks and Jews

(Though “Blacks” wasn’t the word he’d use).


Duke tried to win Beth over

He took her out for lunch over and over.

And though he could be charming

She found his views alarming.


Duke explained over Chinese that Hitler and friends weren’t bad guys

And the Holocaust was just a pack of lies

But Beth’s dad had seen the bodies with his own eyes–

He liberated Buchenwald with Patton.

(Duke scoffed in disbelief while finishing his moo goo gai pan.)


She taped their conversation

Then taped a speech he gave to the Arian Nation.

The recordings caused public objection

Which cost Duke the 1991 governor’s election.


She didn’t do it because she was running against him

Or thought she someday might.

She did it because she found his views repugnant

And did what she thought was right.


She didn’t do it for position or fame

(she didn’t even stay in the political game).

She did it to keep someone whose views we should all abhor

From becoming Louisiana’s Governor.


That ended David Duke’s ascension

In 2003 he pleaded guilty and went to prison for tax evasion

(unfortunately for him, it wasn’t all-caucasion).

Then this year he was expelled from the Czech Republic for racist exhortation.


But Duke’s supporters always pay their debts,

So Beth endured numerous death threats.

Pickup trucks tried to run her off the road.

She was worried her house might explode.


Beth was honored by the Louisiana Center for Women in Government and American Jewish Committee.

She went to Mexico to work as a Catholic missionary.

But she got sick there and never got better

Which turned her into a healthcare debtor.


She was too sick to work and her savings were spent.

She lost her house and couldn’t afford rent.

She stayed with friends (on the sofa) and spent her last week in a motel room

(not a great one, I assume).


The hotel bill was paid by a friend

And that’s where she lived, alone, until the end.

Couldn’t something have been done?

(Healthcare reform, anyone?)


Beth Rickey died 9-11-09 at 53.

She had immune disorder and Crone’s disease,

But the real cause of death was healthcare poverty.

That’s not how society should treat a hero of the GOP.


She worked for the good of others, not herself

In spite (or maybe because) of that, the State Party put her on the shelf.

Ms. Rickey, I have to say:

Republicans need people like you today.

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