Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Judy Baar Topinka

Heard the news early this morning.  I'm stunned.  Judy Baar Topinka, our current Illinois Comptroller, died early this morning at MacNeal Memorial Hospital.  She was admitted yesterday morning after experiencing some symptoms.  Word is she eventually suffered a stroke.  



Judy Baar Topinka
1944 - 2014

May she rest in peace in the loving arms of her Lord and Savior.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Tale of Two Congressmen

Peek-A-Boo Congressman Brad Schneider (D-10th) continues his sleigh of hand campaigning tricks. The latest is from his new ad, where he wants to "lower taxes for the middle class," once again taking a well established Republican message and adopting it as his own mantra.

Anyone see some missing pertinent information about our Peek-A-Boo Congressman? The Daily Herald recently ran a nice article where you can view both former Congressman Dold's first official campaign ad and that of Peek-A-Boo Schneider. The article can be accessed by clicking here. The television ads are included as part of the article.
The contrast in messaging is pretty telling.

Dold's ad includes speaking directly to all types of constituents, including minorities and his offer to be a problem solver. Dold is seen speaking directly to voters in multiple scenes. 

Peek-A-Boo Schneider's ad does not feature a single minority face. Other than his purchase of coffee, Schneider views purported district residents from his automobile. Only white constituents are featured on sidewalks while he repeatedly asserts that he is a Democrat. He asserts he will stop Tea Party obstruction, not mentioning that he has failed to do so for the nearly two years he has held office.

Also missing is any statement that Schneider is the current Congressman elected from Illinois' 10th Congressional District. Or that he is seeking reelection to office. He is in his second year of service in Congress. Doesn't he know that? Or is he pretending? Yet again?

Being less than transparent about his taxes since first running for office and since his election. Being less than transparent about his past business background including the mysterious Cadence business thing that vanished after his election. Demanding that Dold fully disclose his business activities while he fails to disclose his own? Avoiding League of Women debates in the 10th Congressional District? The League of Women Voters?

And I thought Peek-A-Boo Schneider was pro-female.

Peek-A-Boo Mr. Schneider. We still see right through you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering Terrorism on 9/11

No words can adequately convey the horror of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I have spent a considerable part of the day trying to convey my feelings in writing. I've given up. 

These photographs speak far more eloquently than I ever could on this day. The last photograph is that of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which stood across the street from the World Trade Center. It was demolished by the skyscrapers that towered over that little Church. May the memories of all who lost their lives as a result of that day be eternal.





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Peek-A-Boo Congressman Brad Schneider


Congressman Brad Schneider often lists a series of appearances as proof he is traveling his district and meeting his constituents. Many are closed door little roundtable sessions. He tends to avoid Town Hall type of meetings.

The mystery of who Brad Schneider really is continues.  We do know that he has been extremely bashful about his personal wealth, to the point where he has refused to release his joint income tax returns in 2011 and 2012, and then just recently after repeatedly being pushed, releasing a personal (not joint) return for 2013.

According to Roll Call, in a survey just updated on September 9, 2014, the 50 Richest Members of Congress in 2014 are:

            Rank          Name

            1.               Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)
            2.               Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)
            3.               Rep. John Delany (D-MD)
            4.               Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
            5.               Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
            6.               Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
            7.               Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
            8.               Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA)
            9.               Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
            10.             Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
            11.             Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
            12.             Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
            13.             Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA)
            14.             Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
            15.             Rep. James Renacci (R-OH)
            16.             Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX)
            17.             Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)
            18.             Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY)
            19.             Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
            20.             Rep. Diane Black (R-TN)
            21.             Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA)
            22.             Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID)
            23.             Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
            24.             Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
            25.             Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI)
            26.             Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
            27.             Sen. John McCain (R-AR)
            28.             Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
            29.             Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL)
            30.             Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
            31.             Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
            32.             Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
            33.             Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
            34.             Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL)
            35.             Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
            36.             Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)
            37.             Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)
            38.             Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA)
            39.             Rep. Trent Franks (R-AR)
            40.             Rep. John Campbell (R-CA)
            41.             Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)
            42.             Rep. John Fleming (R-LA)
            43.             Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
            44.             Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)
            45.             Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
            46.             Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA)
            47.             Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX)
            48.             Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
            49.             Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM)
            50.             Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL)

Curiously, 8 out of the 10 most wealthiest members of Congress are Democrats.

If you eliminate the wealthy United States Senators on this list, Congressman Brad Schneider is ranked No. 22 in the House with a net worth of approximately $11.71 million. Last year Mr. Schneider’s ranking among fellow Congressional members on this topic was No. 35. 

Mr. Schneider is the only member of the Illinois delegation to appear on the 2014 annual survey. Last year Rep. Foster (D-IL) appeared on the list as number 50 with a net worth of approximately $6.7 million. This year he did not make the list.

Roll Call also reported Mr. Schneider’s portfolio of investment partnerships and brokerage accounts swelled in 2013. His largest stock holdings were stakes worth $100,001 to $250,000 in companies including Google, Facebook, Union Pacific, Exxon Mobil and Boeing. 

Illinois Review published an article recently indicating some Schneider assets that are less than environmentally friendly, including a recent sale of Koch Brothers controlled Georgia Pacific stock. Koch Brothers assets? Owned by a Democrat Congressman who constantly complains of the Koch Brothers and the Citizens United Supreme Court case? How ironic is that? Stock in Peabody Coal? Stock in offshore oil drilling companies? Are we talking Lake Michigan Brad?

Members of Congress are required to file annual disclosure forms revealing certain assets and liabilities. Roll Call reviews these filings and calculates their minimum net worth by subtracting the total minimum value of all liabilities from the total minimum value of all assets reported. Assets are generally reported in ranges, such as from $1,001 to $15,000 and from $100,001 to $250,000. Considering they only used the minimum in each reported range, is Mr. Schneider even wealthier than he appears?

When I printed out his Schedule A listings of assets and liabilities, and Transaction reports that are filed with the Legislative Resource Center, it ran approximately 150 pages. And he has been in office for less than two years.

Again, Mr. Schneider has refused to release his filed joint income tax returns for the years 2011 and 2012. He did finally release his 2013 individual return and did not file jointly that year.

On August 18, 2014, Crain's Chicago Business called that tactic "peek-a-boo" paperwork.

What is next for Mr. Schneider? Refusing to confirm that he will appear for the two scheduled debates with the League of Women Voters this election? One of which is in his own back yard of Deerfield?  

Peek-A-Boo indeed!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Robert P. (Bob) Neal



The Lake County Republican Party lost another exceptional member last week. On early morning Wednesday, September 3, 2014,  Robert (Bob) Neal passed away at home, surrounded by many members of his large family.

Bob had a long and storied history of service to his community, from serving as President of the Lake County Council of the Navy League, President of the Waukegan Jaycees, founder of  the Gurnee Jaycees, a member of the Zion-Bnton Moose Club, Knights of Columbus, Waukegan Masonic Lodge No. 78, Lake County Shriners, Little Fort Lions Club, Wadsworth Lions Club.

Bob served as a volunteer fireman in Newport Township, President of the Newport Historical Society and President of the Newport Township Civic Association. He served as Chairman and also President of the United Way of Lake County, as President of the Waukegan Exchange Club, and as a founding member of the Coalition for Healthy Communities

Bob was elected to serve in many offices, including as trustee for the Village of Wadsworth for 11 years, as Newport Township Supervisor, as a member of the Lake County Board for 12 years, as Chairman of the Lake County Republican Central Committee for eight years, and as a long time Republican Precinct Committeeman.

He was appointed by Governors Thompson and Edgar to serve as a director of the Illinois State Tollway Authority, where he served for a decade. He later worked for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Wetlands Research, Inc. As President of that not for profit corporation, he oversaw and led the development of the Wetlands demonstration project located in Wadsworth and Gurnee.  Later a marsh was named in his honor.

Earlier in life, he was an Eagle Scout with St. Patrick's Troop 75, served in the United States Navy from 1957 to 1961, and later in the Naval Reserves until 1999. He founded Able Electronics in his basement and operated that business in the Waukegan area for over 25 years.

He was born on May 18, 1939 to Leo and Frances (Clarke) Neal in North Chicago and was a life long resident of Wadsworth and a life long member of St. Patrick's Catholic Parish. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Pat (Geissler), his sister-in-law Martha Neal, and children Lori Neal, Cheri Neal, Cathy (Rodney) Karlstrand, Rob Neal, Jr., Joe Neal, and grandchildren Billy Ditzig, Britney Ditzig, Michelle Swanson, Riley Karlstrand, Melissa Neal, Rachel Depuydt, Bill Neal, Betty (Bill) Hoffmeier, Jim (Janet) Neal, Dorothy Desmond (Kevin Scott), Rick (Deb) Neal, along with many nieces, nephews and a large extended family. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Michelle Patrice "Miki" Neal, his parents Leo and Frances Neal, and brother Clarke Neal.

Visitation will be at Immanuel Church, 2300 N. Dilleys Road, Gurnee, on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  A remembrance service will be held at 6:00 p.m. 

Funeral mass will take place at St. Patrick's Church, 15000 Wadsworth Road, Wadsworth, on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 9:30 a.m., with a visitation scheduled from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Burial with full military honors take place at Ascension Cemetery, 1920 Buckley Road, Libertyville, IL.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Misericordia at  www.misericordia.com/donations/donate, or the Lake County Navy League at lakecountynlus.org, or to your own personal cause to help your community.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Momentum Machines and Fast Food Minimum Wages



The minimum wage is a hot button topic with Democrats this election cycle. Nationally, they wish to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 hour. Not to be undone, the Democrat Chicago mayor who never allows a political controversy or crisis to not be politically exploited, wants the minimum wage in Chicago set at $13.00 an hour. In Springfield, those Democrats who completely control our State Government want Illinois' minimum wage set at $10.00. So what is stopping this overwhelming  political momentum for increasing the minimum wage in Illinois?

In Springfield, the Illinois State Senate and House are controlled by veto-proof majorities of Democrats. Rather than vote an increase in the minimum wage, they elected to place on the ballot a non-binding referendum allowing voters to decide the issue. Once the voters decide, it doesn't become law, because it is merely advisory.  The matter then will assumedly be brought again to the Illinois Senate and House controlled by veto-proof majorities of Democrats, where it will be passed.  Maybe.

The Governor of Illinois, who in a political stunt spent a week "living" on $79.00 a week in food and tearfully turning down an iced tea at Wendy's for water, keeps claiming he is for increasing the minimum wage, but did little or nothing to push his fellow Democrats to vote for it in Springfield during the last legislative session. He did speedily sign the advisory referendum so that it could be placed on the ballot.

A compliant and tame city council in Chicago will enact anything that Mayor Rahm Emmanuel wants.  But an increase in the minimum wage?

Not happening until after the election.

Anyone else here think how cynical, cruel and heartless it is of Democrats who can easily enact increases in the minimum wage, yet refuse for purely political reasons? The legislature in Springfield adjourned in May of this year. So those struggling to live on the current minimum wage must continue to suffer until after the November elections?

In Chicago, aldermen never adjourn. Why are they waiting?

"Vote for me and only then will I increase your minimum wage," sure sounds pretty heartless. I'll guarantee anyone in Illinois that Democrats won't be putting that message on their political mailers and literature this year.

I always felt that rather than toss these poor minimum wage workers around like political footballs, the minimum wage should be indexed to the rate of inflation. I even wrote about that idea a while back.  But then again, this is the Common Sense in Illinois' 10th blog. We are not based in Chicago or Springfield, where common sense often is in short supply.

Last week Illinois Democrats ramped up the pressure on themselves to increase the minimum wage, a preposterous situation considering that the keys to increasing the minimum wage are in the hands of those very same Democrats who control Springfield without the need of any Republicans, and in Chicago's City Hall, where no Republican aldermen exist. The pressure is being ramped up so that voters can race to the polls and tell Democrats to do what they can already easily do, but won't.

Union inspired protests even took place in front of various fast food restaurants this week in the Chicago metropolitan area. Some staged arrests took place of protestors wearing red shirts provided by unions who routinely support, endorse and donate to those same Democrats that can easily raise the minimum wage without any opposition in Springfield and Chicago, but won't.

Only in Illinois can such a preposterous situation exist. And if you believe those same Democrats, this preposterous situation is all the fault of Republicans.

Now the Pappas Post, an extensive internet news source for Greek America, is reporting an example of American exceptionalism may solve minimum wage issues for fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, Culvers, 5 Guys, Sonic, Hardy's, Portillo's, and so many others.

No more worrying about escalating labor costs thanks to politicians. No more worrying about minimum wage employees calling in sick, quitting on the spot or just not showing up. No more worries about food sanitation and quality of product.

A private business called Momentum Machines, has developed a machine that promises it can do anything fast food restaurant employees do in a cooking or prep line, only better. "Our device isn't meant to make employees more efficient," said co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas. "It's meant to completely obviate them."

In a matter of minutes, the machine can take a beef patty, grill it, smother it with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles, squirt a little of that special sauce, ketchup or mustard, put it on a bun, and bag it! Sanitation wise, it seems a step above the current set up at most fast food restaurants.

So very shortly, the momentum for increasing the minimum wage to new politically inspired levels will meet Momentum Machines in fast food restaurants. And all those little hardworking people Democrats pretend to help will be obviated?

Good intentions sometimes lead to unintended consequences.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Republicans Rock The Illinois State Fair



Last Thursday, Republicans rocked the Illinois State Fair.  Governor candidate Bruce Rauner rode into the fair grounds on his Harley, wearing a helmut, and was instantly surrounded by a scrum of press individuals.  An impromptu press conference took place in which the press never bothered to ask how he would fix Illinois' ailing economy, tax codes, unemployment and a State Government that has failed to meet the needs of the public it is supposed to serve.  Not asked was the failed "pension reform" that was held unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court and the "half year" unbalanced budget catastrophe enacted by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn.

We will feel the pain of that budget this January.  And yes, after the election!

If you are interested in what the press in attendance actually focused on,  I've posted a video of the six minute press scrum below.


If you were interested in what the candidates had to say at the rally, click here. Congressman Aaron Schock's excellent speech was ignored by the press, who elected to focus on his shoes.

Big difference over what was reported?  Big difference over what you saw on TV news?

I've attended many State Fair Republican rallies over two decades, and I was stunned at the excitement and enthusiasm this past Thursday. Nothing in the past compared to this one. Nothing.

You won't see that on the news.

But you will see it after the polls finally close on election day.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Madigan, Emmanuel and Cullerton No Show Governors Day

I'm visiting the Illinois State Fair this week in Springfield.  Staying at the Hampton Inn, just across the street from the Crown Plaza, filled with Democrats who rallied for Governor Pat Quinn and all Democrats running for office this November.

Yesterday was "Governors Day," the day when Democrats rally at the Illinois State Fair.

The day should more appropriately be called Democrat MIA (Missing in Action Day).

Missing from the Democrat unity rally held in a hotel and picnic area next to the hotel:

(1) Democrat State Party Chairman and Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan;

(2) Senate President and Democrat leader John Cullerton;

(3) A certain Chicago Mayor who was President Obama's first Chief of Staff.

(4) No Public Democrat Party rally at the Illinois State Fair.

Deliberate snubs?  Too busy to attend what is supposed to be a unity rally for the party?

Hmm!

Friday, May 23, 2014

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Endorses Dold

NOTE: This week is National Business Week. "Businessman" Brad Schneider, our current congressman, formerly of the mysterious "Cadence Consulting, LLC," and who now hosts regular "Brad at your Business" photo opportunities in the district, didn't fool the National Federation of Independent Business group this week:

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS 
(NFIB) ENDORSES DOLD OVER SCHNEIDER

NFIB: Schneider Votes Against Small Business Nearly 80% of the Time

Libertyville, IL - Last week, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation's leading small business association, publicly endorsed Bob Dold (R-10) in Illinois' 10th District U.S. Congressional Race.

"Our members support the candidates who support small business," said Lisa Goeas, NFIB Vice President for Political and Grassroots. "Bob Dold stood with our members time and again in Congress. We need to send him back."

Considering that Brad Schneider - who sits on the House of Representatives Small Business Committee - earned "a pitiful 22 percent NFIB voting record, taking the small-business position only twice during the 113th Congress, I think there is no question that Bob Dold is the best candidate for Illinois' 10th District," Goeas added.

When in Congress, Dold - a small businessman himself who operates one of the oldest and most successful pest control companies in the nation - earned a 92 percent NFIB voting record, demonstrating an unyielding commitment to fighting for pro-growth, pro-jobs policies that small businesses need to survive and thrive in today's economy.

"As a small business owner, I understand the realities of trying to keep the doors open of a business in a depressed economy and the hardship these struggles can have on working families. Now more than ever, we need to give certainty to our job creators so they can continue innovating, investing and hiring right here in our own backyard," said Dold. "It's an honor to have the endorsement of the NFIB, the voice of those they represent is one I know well and one that I will continue to fight for."

#  #  #

Friday, May 16, 2014

FOLLOW UP: More Wilson Rap and Musical Chair Answers


Two stories I recently posted deserve updates or small follow ups.

Don Wilson for State Senate

Last week I posted a rap song that was written on behalf of the Don Wilson for State Senate campaign. The number of hits to this site soared to near record levels.

Mr. Wilson needs to put this music to video!

Now Mike Riopoli of the Daily Herald has picked up this story and posted his own article on the subject. Riopoli includes Wilson's very interesting personal past history which is quite inspiring.

It can be read by clicking here.

Chairmen of the Illinois Republican Party

For those of you actually wondering about who has served as Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party in the past:

1999-2014

Richard S. Williamson
Lee A. Daniels
Dallas Ingemunson
Gary MacDougal
Judy Barr Topinka
Andrew McKenna
Pat Brady
Jack Dorgan
Timothy O. Schneider


1960-1999

Victor L. Smith
Donald "Doc" Adams
Al Jourdan
Harold Byron Smith

Smith and Adams served roughly 15 years each in that position. I added Schneider's name to the list assuming his election this Saturday.

Let's hope Schneider can end the recent game of musical chairs. I'd rather hear Wilson's music!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Musical Chairs of the Illinois State Republican Party.

HBO has "Game of Thrones." The Illinois Republican Party has "Game of Musical Chairs." Somehow that doesn't measure up. Both can be violent, bloody and very entertaining.

Jack Dorgan assumed the Chairmanship of the party in June of 2013. Dorgan's selection by the State Central Committee was not without controversy. Dorgan replaced Pat Brady, whose resignation was demanded by 8 members of the central committee after he came out in favor of same sex marriage six months after the disastrous November 2012 election. No one demanded his resignation over party performance during the election. Those demanding his resignation at the time claimed his position on same sex marriage but was one of many factors leading to demands for his resignation.

Almost no one bought that political spin.

The whole thing turned into a huge public soap opera that further damaged the recent Illinois Republican political brand.

During this all this drama, Dorgan was elected. Several political vampires were indignant over his election. The same vampires who were equally indignant over Brady, Andrew McKenna and Judy Baar Topinka. I've written about political vampires and political vampire groups in the past, and not in a complimentary way. Political vampires are not interested in Republicans winning elections. They need the party to remain broken so they can thrive and prosper. Republicans winning elections becomes harmful to political vampires, like sunshine, silver or wooden stakes, and reduces their visibility, relevance and dries up their fundraising appeals. I call them political vampires because they prey on Republican donors for funding, then turn around and attack the Republican Party.

Such vampires are doomed and out of business should the Illinois Republican Party actually fix itself.

Well, under Dorgan's watch, the party began the process of fixing itself. His low profile silenced the vampires. They stopped shouting but continued grumbling. Taking a half dead political organization and bringing it back to life was a tremendous achievement, worthy of reelection.

Worthy but not meant to be. Dorgan announced after the deadline to filing for reelection, that he would not seek a new term, and would remain an elected State Central Committeeman. Rumors are flying that he was pushed or eased out. Let's hope not.

Last month, there was a strong turnover of membership in the Illinois Republican State Central Committee. A strong majority of the 8 who signed a letter seeking Pat Brady's resignation are now gone. Some turnover was due to congressional redistricting, the rest was attributable to restless committeemen, who elect the membership of the Central Committee using Congressional District boundaries.

The whole system of electing the Illinois State Republican Party Central Committee is convoluted and beyond Byzantine, and as a Greek-American who normally takes pride in Greek influences in this country, I mean this as criticism. Adding to the confusion, in order to be elected Chairman, an application and paperwork had to be filed by Monday. Three candidates
filed their paperwork in a timely fashion, Jack Dorgan, Tim Schneider and Blair Garber.

Dorgan and Garber have since withdrawn, leaving Schneider last in the game of musical chairs. He will be elected Saturday through a weighted vote.

Champion News saved me a little homework on the weighted votes that will be cast on Saturday:

DistrictSCC MemberGOP BallotsWeighted Vote
18Michael Bigger96,46311.6%
15Robert Winchester80,3279.7%
6Brian Colgan79,2389.6%
16John McGlasson76,7789.3%
14Stanton Bond71,5858.6%
13Fred Floreth53,1946.4%
17Jan Weber48,1795.8%
11Roger Claar42,2805.1%
12Michael Neubert40,5214.9%
9Blair Garber39,6234.8%
8Ryan Higgins38,9354.7%
10Mark Shaw38,6864.7%
3Sean Morrison35,7024.3%
1Shaun Murphy24,0242.9%
5Jack Dorgan22,5642.7%
2Judy Diekelman21,2112.6%
7Carol Smith Donovan10,7951.3%
4Jay Reyes9,2721.1%

So how knowledgeable are you of Illinois Republican party? I include all political junkies of all political stripes. Even you political vampires.

It's pop quiz time!

How many chairmen of the Illinois Republican Party can you name that served since the start of the new millennium? The election of Schneider will be the 9th individual to hold that position since the year 2000, or roughly 14 years. This averages out to a term of one and a half years each. You need to name the other eight.

From 1960 to 2000, only four individuals held that position. That average is 10+ years each. No cheating please by surfing the internet for the answers! This is not a Common Core question.

Musical chair answers tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ambassador Robert D. Stuart, Jr.

Republicans always speak of exceptionalism. We recently lost an individual who personified and redefined what exceptionalism means. The following obituary was written by his family:

Robert D. Stuart, Jr.

Robert D. Stuart, Jr., former Ambassador to Norway, long time chief executive of the Quaker Oats Company, and a leader in civic and business affairs for more than 60 years, died on May 8, 2014 en route from France to the United States with his beloved wife Lillan. He was 98. The cause was heart failure. 
Whether it was in business, politics, or philanthropy, Ambassador Stuart’s consistent ambition was to live up to the title of his privately published memoirs: "Making a Difference." By all accounts, he did.
As a young law student at Yale in 1940, Stuart joined with a group of classmates, including Gerald Ford, Potter Stewart and Kingman Brewster - a future U.S. President, Supreme Court Justice and Yale College president--to found the America First Committee, a grass roots organization dedicated to keeping America out of the developing European conflict. At its peak, America First had as many as 800,000 members. 
America First disbanded shortly after Pearl Harbor in 1941, and Stuart joined the Army as a field artillery officer. He served two years overseas and spent most of the time assigned to SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces) attached to Chief of Staff Bedell Smith. He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of Major and returned to law school at Yale.
Upon graduation, he joined the Quaker Oats Company, which was co-founded by his grandfather Robert Stuart and led at the time by his father R. Douglas Stuart and uncle John Stuart. He spent 38 years at Quaker, the last 15 as chief executive, and during his tenure pushed to diversify the company beyond oatmeal and cereal brands and to expand its international presence. Two themes animated his leadership: a belief in the power of strong brands and the certainty that corporations like Quaker had a duty both to their shareholders and to the communities in which they lived and operated. From the time he became president in 1962 to his stepping down in 1984 to join the diplomatic corps, sales grew from $365 million to more than $3 billion.
As Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Norway from 1984 to 1989, Stuart followed in the tradition of his father, who was the American ambassador to Canada in the mid-1950s. The younger Stuart served in the waning years of the Cold War, when Norway’s location north of the Barents Sea and its proximity to the former Soviet Union was of great strategic relevance both to the United States and to NATO and occasioned intelligence gathering “listening posts” and periodic below-the-radar jousting between U.S. and Soviet submarines.  
In the face of considerable skepticism from Norwegians, Stuart gamely promoted President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, more familiarly known as “Star Wars,” earning the respect of the diplomatic and political community even as they disagreed with the U.S. policy he was promoting. He fell in love with Norway, as did his wife Barbara, and they both enjoyed a wide circle of friends. The feeling was apparently mutual, as the Norwegian press termed Ambassador Stuart “en flink gutt” — a good guy.
Robert D. Stuart, Jr. was born in 1916 Hubbard Woods, Illinois and grew up in Lake Forest, just north of his birthplace. His mother, Harriet McClure Stuart, was the daughter of James Gore King McClure, a Presbyterian minister who also served as the president of Lake Forest College. Both Rev. McClure and his parents were powerful role models, impressing upon young Stuart and his three sisters Anne, Margaret and Harriet, the importance of public service. All of them went on to significant leadership roles in the public and private sectors in their respective communities.
Stuart graduated from the Los Alamos Ranch School in New Mexico, later the site that housed Robert Oppenheimer and a team of scientists who built the first atomic bomb, and then Princeton University in 1937, where he earned a degree in politics and was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps or ROTC and deeply engaged with The Daily Princetonian and a wide assortment of other campus activities.
In 1938, he married the former Barbara Edwards from Syracuse, NY. They had five children, three of whom survive him. His wife died in 1993, and two years later, he married Lillan Løvenskiold, a Norwegian whom he had met during his time as ambassador, who along with her late husband, had been close friends. She was the second great love of his life.
Stuart’s business, civic and political engagements were extensive. For many years, he was a trustee of Princeton University. At various times he also served as a director of United Airlines, the Burlington Northern Railroad, the First National Bank of Chicago (now J.P. Morgan Chase), Deere and Company, and Molson Companies, Ltd. of Canada. Equally important were his commitments to the community including the Millennium Park Project in Chicago and the Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest.
A life long Republican, he served as National Committeeman from Illinois and Finance Chair in Illinois for the Reagan campaign, among many assignments. A particular source of pride was his founding in 1962 of the Lake County Republican Federation, reflecting his long-standing belief in the importance of local politics. As he frequently said, “There’s a great fascination with the eagles flying over Washington, but it’s the ducks back home that are pecking us to death.”
Public service called again upon his return from Norway. First, President George H.W. Bush  in 1991 and then President Clinton in 1993 nominated him for Defense Base Case Closure and Realignment Commission, a non-partisan group whose delicate and politically charged assignment was to evaluate those military bases that might have outlived their usefulness. 
Amb. Stuart always took the long view and had the knack for seeing opportunities where others didn’t — particularly in real estate. He was enormously proud in the fall of 2013 when Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest was on the national stage, hosting its first professional golf tournament, the BMW Championship, on land that he and his partners had acquired in the late 1950s.
As his political and business interests wound down, Amb. Stuart focused on philanthropy, founding a family foundation that supported research and advocacy on a variety of public policy issues including civic education, campaign finance reform and national security — all with an eye towards making a difference.
Away from the public sphere, he was happiest at the family ranch in Wyoming, surrounded by those he loved across four generations, or at his wife Lillan’s home in Norway, where he enjoyed visits with his extended Norwegian family.
Ambassador Stuart is survived by his wife Lillan, sister Margaret, his son James M. Stuart and wife Dianne, daughter Marian S. Pillsbury, son Alexander D. Stuart and wife Robin, daughter-in-law Nancy M. Stuart, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and numerous Norwegian step-children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He adored them all, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

A memorial service will be held at 3:00 PM on Saturday, May 17th at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest or Princeton University.