Event Coverage Highlight
OPC and OPC Foundation Honor Jacqueline Albert-Simon
Scroll down to see a slide show and a video clip from the event.
By Bill Holstein
As we dig through the dustbins of history, the first documentary evidence that Jacqueline Albert-Simon had been elected to the OPC Board was in a letter that H.L. Stevenson, the former editor in chief of United Press International, wrote to me in July 1991. Reporting on the results of a recent election, Steve informed me that Ms. Albert-Simon had been elected as an alternate to the board. I was moving up from alternate to become a full-fledged board member. “Steve,” as he was called, was responsible for resuscitating both the OPC and the OPC Foundation, after years of wandering in the wilderness. No one dared call him Hubert Lamar.
After that date, Jackie never left. Not for 25 years. She was astute enough to take a term as a regular governor, then rotate into becoming secretary or treasurer or vice president, then rotate back to being a regular governor. During that time, she was the go-to person for OPC presidents who needed advice on how to handle messy situations. She put on several excellent programs (and has one more coming up in September about international sports). And on the OPC Foundation board, she endowed the Flora Lewis scholarship and helped endow one for I.F. Stone, along with Rick MacArthur of Harper’s magazine.
Jackie is rotating off the board with this summer’s elections. We have every intention of enlisting her to run again next summer. But in the meantime, a number of us decided to honor Jackie with an “appreciation night,” which we did at Club Quarters on the evening of June 22.
Eight OPC presidents (past, present and future) attended. Larry Smith, who was president from 1992 to 1994, described the board meetings at the time Jackie joined as resembling “a peasants’ revolt.” Steve had a volcanic temper, but labor writer Victor Reisel used to revel in provoking Steve with senseless proposals. Henri Gellerman, a former German soldier captured during World War II who was turned into an interpreter for the Allies, and perhaps subjected to particularly intense mental pressures as a result, was president of the foundation, but refused to tell anyone how much money the foundation had or what it was doing. Jackie was an island of stability amid the madness.
I was president from 1994 to 1996. I described other correspondence from Steve lamenting the fact that the club manager would not tell him how much money the club had. He could not find a copy of the club’s constitution or bylaws. And board elections were routinely mishandled by aforesaid club manager. Larry and I moved a rather large owl from our former headquarters at the Women’s Republican Club on 51st Street into the club’s then headquarters at the Tudor Hotel on East 42nd Street. That helped precipitate the departure of the club manager. We then hired Sonya Fry, also in attendance on June 22. We were, in fact, bankrupt.
John Corporon and Larry Martz, both former presidents, hailed Jackie for her friendship and behind-the-scenes advice. Allan Dodds Frank and Michael Serrill, more recent presidents, chimed in with similar sentiments. Current president Marcus Mabry and incoming president Deidre Depke, who represents the future and is better equipped for that task by understanding some of the past, also were in attendance.
A proclamation was presented to Jackie, which read in part:
“Whereas, Ms. Albert-Simon sought to prevent hostile board members, presidents and executive directors from coming to bodily blows;
“And whereas she generally injected more dignity and grace into our proceedings than we generally deserved;
“Therefore, let it be known to all savants and sages, both at hand and in distant lands, that the OPC and OPC Foundation offer their unanimous thanks and appreciation to Jacqueline Albert-Simon for navigating us through these most perilous of journalistic times.”
Jackie was characteristically understated in her parting comments sent around via email to the board: “I will miss planning, talking, arguing and yelling over each other’s voices,” she said. “The OPC is close to my heart and mind and I wish all of you luck, satisfaction and safety in work, and in your playtime as well.”
Left to right: Former OPC President Larry Smith, former OPC president and current OPC Foundation President Bill Holstein, OPC Foundation Executive Director Jane Reilly and former OPC Executive Director Sonya Fry. Photo: Patricia Kranz
Jacqueline Albert-Simon, left, with former OPC President Michael Serrill.
Left to right: OPC Executive Director Patricia Kranz, Jacqueline Albert-Simon and OPC Treasurer Tim Ferguson.
Left to right: Jacqueline Albert-Simon, Bill Holstein and Allan Dodds Frank.
Jacqueline Albert-Simon, left, and Marcus Mabry. Photo: Patricia Kranz