Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.
Where my friends will meet no more.
~ Les Miserables
When I was in Rock Creek Cemetery this week, I stumbled upon this grave marker. I do believe that this is one of my all-time favorites. From the chair to the newspaper to even the coffee cups, there is just so much detail. When I spotted it, I immediately thought of the abandoned chair that was left behind when one of my favorite Ashland homes was torn down. I absolutely love when a marker tells a story especially before I even knew the story.
The marker is for Paul Raymond Tully. The inscription includes his birth and death date which is standard but right under his name, Tully is listed as "A Democrat." Finding information about him was quite easy. Below is the announcement from The New York Times.
Paul Tully, the political director of the Democratic National Committee and one of his party's preeminent strategists, was found dead in Little Rock, Ark., today. He was 48 years old.Mr. Tully was among the most impassioned and intense of a generation of Democratic political professionals who devoted much of their lives to regaining the White House.He worked in every Presidential election since 1968.He had moved to Little Rock this fall to aid in Gov. Bill Clinton's drive for the White House. Ronald H. Brown, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement tonight: "There will be only one Paul Tully. Pacing, driven, and full of joy, Paul's commitment to our party and, more importantly, to making this great nation even greater was a fire that burned bright and long."In a statement, Mr. Clinton said, "Paul had one of the nation's greatest political minds, and one of its biggest hearts."Mr. Tully was a fixture in Democratic Presidential politics, working for Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 1980, for Walter F. Mondale in 1984, for former Senator Gary Hart's first Presidential campaign in 1987, and, briefly, as a top aide to Michael S. Dukakis. Mr. Tully resigned from that campaign along with John Sasso, the campaign manager, after Mr. Sasso acknowledged giving reporters a videotape that showed Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. using parts of another politician's speech. The disclosure helped set off the collapse of Mr. Biden's Presidential campaign.Mr. Tully was convinced that 1988 was a winnable election for the Democrats, and he spent much of the next four years arguing that a new Democratic majority was emerging in the country; at the Democratic National Committee, he led the party's efforts to prepare for this campaign, and oversaw the integration of those efforts with the Clinton campaign. Economy as IssueEven at the height of Mr. Bush's popularity after the Persian Gulf war in 1991, when many Democrats considered this election an almost certain defeat, Mr. Tully made the rounds of party gatherings with his slide shows and his charts, arguing that Mr. Bush had serious vulnerabilities. He was known in political circles for his blunt assessments, his fierce partisanship and his love of the game. At a time when many analysts still believed that the 1992 election would be heavily influenced by foreign policy and the ability to serve as Commander in Chief, Mr. Tully declared, "This is about money in my pocket, prices for the essentials of life, the level of fear on the block."James Carville, the senior strategist for the Clinton campaign, said: "This guy's whole life was Democratic Presidential politics. He had worked for four years on this -- he had every map, every target, he probably knew the name of every swing voter in the country."Mr. Tully was born in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and was a graduate of Yale College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. (The New York Times, September 25, 1992)
Tully certainly did not have the kind of money to commission such a memorial. After a bit of research, I learned that his friends and family together commissioned the bronze memorial sculpture. Even more interesting, his eldest daughter was the lead artist for the sculpture. Daughter Jessica Tully holds an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. She designed the bronze and granite memorial and worked with the Del Sol foundry in California to cast and assemble the project. The three parts of the memorial include Tully’s wooden work chair, a copy of the newspaper which was significant for the date, and two coffee cups. The unveiling occurred last year on what would have been Tully’s 70th birthday.