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TFAS Remembers P.J. O’Rourke


Former TFAS Regent Geordie French meets with P.J. and TFAS students at the 2014 Annual Conference.

The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) staff and supporters were deeply saddened to hear that journalist, political satirist and friend P.J. O’Rourke passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 15, due to complications of lung cancer.

When P.J. entered a room, laughter, entertainment and levity increased. TFAS was blessed to know P.J. and remains grateful for the wit, humor and light he brought to several TFAS gatherings over the last decade. Along with his entertainment and jokes, he brought a sound mind for reporting facts and a purposeful search for truth.

 “P.J. was a likable and down-to-earth writer who used humor to skewer arrogant people and powerful institutions, while cleverly making the case for liberty.” – Steve Slattery, TFAS Executive Vice President 

A friend of TFAS, P.J. first spoke to students, alumni, supporters and friends at the 2014 TFAS Annual Conference where he shared his experience as a political reporter. As the dinner’s keynote speaker, he provided entertaining comments on how government works – or doesn’t work – to resounding appreciation, big laughs and a standing ovation.

Lee Henningsen, P.J. and TFAS President Roger Ream converse at the 2014 Annual Conference Dinner.

P.J. was also involved in TFAS’s Journalism Fellowships for several years. He presented the Thomas L. Phillips Career Achievement Award to his friend Andrew Ferguson in 2016 and accepted the award himself in 2018. The honor was rightfully awarded to O’Rourke, as it recognizes the accomplishments of a leader who has made major contributions to the field of journalism throughout a prolific distinguished career.

During his acceptance remarks in 2018, P.J. entertained the crowd with his humor and forthright opinions on the politics of the day, all while reminding guests of the power of the individual and the importance of protecting freedom.

P.J. O’Rourke accepts the Thomas L. Phillips Career Achievement Award at the TFAS Journalism Awards Dinner in 2018.

“Individual liberty is about bringing things together, politics is about dividing things up,” he said. “All good things come from individual liberty. Goodness itself is an individual matter.”

TFAS Executive Vice President and COO Steve Slattery remembers P.J. as “a likable and down-to-earth writer who used humor to skewer arrogant people and powerful institutions, while cleverly making the case for liberty.”

The entire TFAS family mourns this profound loss. We are grateful to hold a catalogue of his memories through his countless articles, books and other writings. His wife Tina and their children are in our thoughts.



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