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Seven for the Ages

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When former Governor Pete du Pont isn’t working at his office in Wilmington, he enjoys racing his 25-foot sailboat.

Photograph by Tom Nutter

 

 

Smooth Sailing

 

Whether it’s politics, public policy, or appearing on cable news shows, Pete du Pont remains on top of his game.

Tackling public policy? He can do it in his sleep.

Racing a 25-foot sailboat? Bring on the sea.

Solving a difficult Sudoku puzzle?

“Now that gets your brain wrapped up in a knot,” says Pete du Pont, 72.

It’s been nearly 20 years since the former governor’s run for the White House, but du Pont remains an influential and oft-consulted figure in local, national and even global issues. In Delaware, he’s simply legendary.

“Pete du Pont is a constant,” says Priscilla Rakestraw, Republican national committeewoman for Delaware. “The years since he was governor have not dampened his enthusiasm and his campaigning for the issues. He contributes to a wider community than most.”

Du Pont chairs the 1,000-person board of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a think tank based in Dallas, Texas, that promotes free enterprise and conservative governmental policies. He is also on the board of the Delaware Public Policy Institute, which he founded in the 1980s. Each board meets four or five times a year, requiring a significant investment of time and travel.

“Public policy is something I like doing,” du Pont says. “It’s always new and interesting every day. And I get to do it without getting elected.”

Armed with a degree in law from Harvard, du Pont began his political career in 1968 as a state representative, then served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He won two terms as governor, beginning in 1976. One of Delaware’s most popular governors, he is credited with reviving the First State’s business climate. With a platform for small government, social security privatization and school choice, du Pont made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988.

Throughout his life, du Pont has maintained a pace as challenging as the toughest Sudoku puzzle. He’s advised presidents and prime ministers on employment issues, served on a blue ribbon panel to help guide a new Hungarian government from socialism to a market economy, and chaired a national organization for education reform.

Du Pont’s views continue to reach a wide audience through his work as a consultant for Fox News and through his weekly column about public policy and politics, called Outside the Box, for the editorial page website of The Wall Street Journal.

Du Pont is a former director of Wilmington law firm Richards, Layton & Finger, but he still keeps an office there. He says he puts in about 30 hours a week since retiring from the firm. Du Pont claims to take more vacation time than when he held office, but his wife, Elise, is not convinced. “She asked me why I don’t take time off. She said nothing has changed.”

Du Pont reads six papers every morning, in addition to two or three websites on public policy. To keep his body up with his mind, he walks two miles every other day. “If you can’t do that, you climb the stairs 15 times,” he says.

As a young man, du Pont sailed in Olympic and America’s Cup trials. He remains an avid sailboat racer, entering four or five events each year in locales such as Maine, Rhode Island and Annapolis. “It was a 40-foot boat when I was younger,” he says. “Now they’re 25-foot boats. But it’s very competitive racing.”

During the America’s Cup trials, du Pont was a crew member. These days, he’s fittingly at the helm. He says life has never been better.

“Knock on wood, the Lord’s got me healthy and I’m enjoying it.”

 

 

Tubby Raymond’s home in Fort Myers, Florida, is on the 18th hole of a golf course resort. He takes full advantage.

Photograph by Brian Tietz http://www.briantietz.com

 

The Renaissance of Raymond

 

UD coaching legend Tubby Raymond hung up his headset five years ago, but he remains competitive. These days, he can likely be found in his art studio, on a golf course or on local radio. One place you won’t find him is on the sidelines.

His career is legendary: 300 wins, three national titles, enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame and a stadium full of other accolades.

What more could former UD football coach Tubby Raymond care to accomplish?

“I want to enter a painting contest,” he says. “I’m looking for things I can do that haven’t been done before by me.”

Most folks familiar with Raymond, now 80, know that he painted portraits of each of his senior players. That tradition continues as he presents current Blue Hens with their portrait each Thursday during the season.

Now the self-taught artist feels his work has reached a level where he can compete with other artists. Painting is certainly more constructive than replaying football games in his mind.

“I just loved my coaching life,” Raymond says. “I can sit and dream about different games—games we won and games we lost, what we could have done differently. You can be mesmerized by the past.

“Football, that is closed. Painting has an open end to it. I respect the past, but I want to get out there and create something for tomorrow.”

These days Raymond paints, plays golf and reads David Baldacci crime novels. He penned a chapter on the anatomy of the famed Wing-T offense for the American Football Association. He speaks at football clinics and broadcasts a twice-weekly analysis of the Blue Hens on WDEL.

Residents of Landenberg, Pennsylvania, Raymond and wife, Diane, winter in Fort Myers, Florida, where they own a home on a golf course. Raymond plays in twice-weekly tournaments with coaching contemporaries such as Don Nehlen, John Pont and Ara Parseghian. Lunch conversations inevitably turn to college football and how it has changed since they left the game.

“We all have the same complaints,” Raymond says, laughing. “We say, ‘Can you believe they have a boom box in the locker room before the game? They don’t scrimmage…’”

Raymond swims to rehab an ailing back that was eroding his golf game. The exercise has paid off, as he’s lowered his handicap from 20 to 14. He’s aiming for single digits. “I’m so bad, my oldest son Chris won’t play with me anymore,” Raymond says. “He says we’ll find other things to do together.”

Raymond, an avid baseball fan, tracks the stats of a dozen major leaguers. While in Florida, he rides his bike three miles to catch Minnesota Twins games at their spring training facility.

Raymond formed the Tubby Raymond Foundation, which is working to raise $300,000—$1,000 for each of Raymond’s victories.

He dabbles in painting in Florida, but Raymond’s always anxious to return to his home studio where he continues to hone his skills.

“I’m not going to be satisfied,” he says, “until one of those paintings says hello to me.”

 

 

 

Battle Robinson was most recently in the news as special counsel to the House Ethics Committee in Dover, but she continues to focus her attention to the difficult task of historic preservation.

Photograph by Tom Nutter

 

Battle Rages On

 

Whether it’s working to save historic homes or leading a special investigation for the state legislature, former Family Court judge Battle Robinson can’t resist helping her community.

Battle Robinson has always been busier than she bargained for.

“I’m too active. That’s my problem,” says the 69-year-old from Georgetown.

Robinson retired from the Sussex County Family Court bench seven years ago to tend to ailing family members in her native North Carolina. She figured that she would eventually spend time traveling and doing things she hadn’t been able to do.

But duty called. And it called again.

It wasn’t long before Robinson went back to work as counsel for the state House Republican caucus—one of the first jobs she held after coming to Delaware. She worked part-time, three days a week, six months a year.

When the General Assembly went to work earlier this year, Robinson again felt it was time to move on to other things. “I told them I couldn’t do it,” she says. “It was time to get younger people involved.”

This time, Robinson was retired all of one week when legislative leaders asked her to serve as special counsel to the House Ethics Committee. Robinson was charged with leading an investigation into the conduct of former State Representative John Atkins.

In the meantime, she continues to work to preserve the state’s historic homes. She has served on the board of Preservation Delaware and recently resigned from its related Preservation Fund because, she says, “I’ve been on it forever.”

Robinson works with Historic Sussex, a non-profit coalition of local historical societies, museums, community historic preservation boards and other folks interested in preserving historic resources in Sussex County. A primary goal is to get historic preservation sections added to the county’s comprehensive land use plan, she says, “so that things aren’t torn down willy-nilly.”

Robinson would like to see more efforts by state and local governments to save structures so people can see where we came from and how we’ve evolved. Pet projects have included the Brick Hotel in Georgetown and Lawrence, an 1830s home near Seaford that is one of the best examples of high style Greek revival in Delaware.

Robinson says making the push for preservation has required her to reinvent herself.

“Sometimes you have to make yourself obnoxious,” she says, “and that does not come natural for me.”

Robinson, who enjoys babysitting her grandson and attending Bible study, recently joined the board of the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover. She simply couldn’t help herself.

“I had no idea about how museums functioned and operated,” she says. “I thought, Gee, that will be interesting to find out. You just keep learning from everything you do.”

Robinson’s activities through the years have often required her to spend much time away from home. “I tell my daughter this is my last good year,” she says. “When I turn 70, maybe it will be a good time to start winding everything down.”

Believe it when you see it.

 

 

 

Marge and Ted Ressler’s lives still revolve around community theater, but they also donate their time to many other causes, including AARP and women’s issues.

 

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