Remembering Ray Hartwell

My friend Ray Hartwell, whose work has appeared on Power Line, died suddenly last week. Ray had just gone into semi-retirement from the practice of law and had moved back to his native Alabama. He was 66.

Ray and I worked at the same law firm for the better part of two decades, but in different sections and different offices. Thus, I knew him mainly by reputation until we worked together on a telecommunications matter in the late 1990s.

During our collaboration, Ray lived up to his stellar reputation. He provided forceful, effective advocacy without sacrificing his dignity or his honor. And he was as collegial as they come. In short, he was one of that vanishing breed, the gentleman lawyer.

Ray and I became friends when he decided to try his hand at political commentary. Unlike most who attempt punditry as a second calling (including yours truly), Ray didn’t bypass the “gatekeepers” via blogging. Instead, he earned his platform the old fashioned way, by providing commentary of such a high quality as to satisfy editors like Wlady Pleszczynski at the American Spectator and several at the Washington Times.

I’m proud to say that Power Line also published some of Ray’s work, such as this piece about Greece, a country he came to love (despite its politics) through his wife Marianne. There was also this take in 2010 on President Obama, which holds up well, I think, even though it runs against the grain of much conservative commentary.

We also linked to articles Ray published in the Spectator and the Times. Our last such link was this past December to a moving piece called “A Christmas Eve Message to the Troops.” Writing for the American Spectator, Ray described his father’s experiences fighting the Germans in Italy during the latter part of 1943. And he quoted a remarkable Christmas message that Col. William H. Martin wrote to the surviving officers and men of the 143rd Infantry Regiment which he commanded.

Ray, by the way, served in the military as a naval officer, if I’m not mistaken.

Ray’s commentary was always biting, but fair. He also mastered the tricky art of book reviewing. All of this while practicing antitrust law as a partner in a top law firm.

Ray’s voice will be greatly missed. So will Ray.

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