and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column

Remembering a friend: EMC's Dick Egan
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, September 10, 2009

A wonderful man, a great American, died last month.

Richard Egan was the founder of EMC Corp., a former ambassador to Ireland, a libertarian-leaning Republican and, I am honored to say, a friend of mine.

I want to share these thoughts with you because sometimes we forget there are still heroes even when their passing isn't noted as much as that of, say, politicians and mobsters including this capitalist businessman who created thousands of jobs in Massachusetts and Ireland.

Dick Egan also created a lucrative investment opportunity for regular folks who invested in EMC when it went public in 1986.

I wasn't one of those investors, alas. I knew Dick then, but I thought that he was an insurance company lobbyist, confusing him, I suspect, with another acquaintance named Dick. I ran into him at various business meetings and political times, and found him a kindred ideological spirit; we talked politics in a corner while really important people socialized around us.

After a while I asked him what he did, and he told me he sold filing systems. I pictured a warehouse filled with tan or gray filing cabinets and moved on to a discussion of who was running for what. It was years before I became aware of the computer storage product that made him one of the richest men in America.

I started to catch on when he sent a contribution to Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) and became one of its few corporate supporters. He sent a final check a few weeks before he died; not knowing he had Stage IV lung cancer, I mailed a thank-you note anticipating that we would be enjoying the coming election cycle together.

Instead Chip and I ended up going to his memorial service last week at EMC headquarters in Southborough. It was two wonderfully inspiring hours.

His founding partner, Roger Marino, and the two men who succeeded Dick as chairman following his retirement, told stories about his extraordinary achievements. Four of his children told stories about the fun of having him as a father and grandpa. There was also a video tribute from EMC employees who appreciate the chance to work at such a successful company.

Beautiful music was provided by the Electric Youth from the Franklin School of Performing Arts. Dick's teenage grandson, Michael, soloed with the moving "Home," and if there was a dry eye in the auditorium, it wasn't mine.

I spent an hour trying to choose just the right flower arrangement, finally gave up on the 800-numbers and direct-phoned English Garden Florists who were happy to give me exactly what I wanted: Red roses for excellence, white daisies for never losing the common touch, and blue anything to complete the patriotic theme for a man who loved America.

There was little mention during the memorial service of Dick's political involvement, so I'll focus on it here. He not only contributed huge sums to his chosen presidential candidates, he personally collected signatures for CLT's income tax rollback petition in 2000!

He copied me a letter he sent to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, declining to serve on its board as long as it opposed the rollback.

I must share with you another letter he wrote to the Boston Globe after we won that campaign.

REGARDING THE Nov. 19 news story, "State-tied firms bankrolled tax cut":

The major premise suggesting that everyone who supported the tax rollback with significant financial donations was trying to curry favor with the governor for state business is classic Globe "journalism."

While I can't speak for everyone else who was also disparaged in this article, I can tell you the only two reasons I strongly supported the rollback were:

The Commonwealth is rolling in cash. Promises are made to be kept, even from politicians.

I believe the intent of this article was to discredit those of us who had the audacity to support a position opposed by the almighty Globe (editorials, Nov. 6 and 7).

For the record, I also donated to the Massachusetts High Technology Council and the Citizens for Limited Taxation to support the tax rollback initiative.


Little known fact: After his retirement, Dick published a book of lawyer jokes just for fun.

  Barbara presenting the Warren T. Brookes Award to Dick Egan at 2000 CLT banquet

In 2000, Dick was asked to attend CLT's "20 years of ballot initiatives" brunch, so we could give him our annual Warren T. Brookes award, named for the Marblehead columnist who helped create Proposition 2 and wrote a book celebrating the free-enterprise system.

Dick accepted the invitation, "as long as I don't have to dress up or give a speech." Dressed casually for the weekend event, he brought some family and friends from his native Dorchester, mingled and laughed with CLT members, then, apparently inspired, asked if he could "say a few words." We loved his speech; we loved him.

And Dick loved political activism, along with his large family, his work, and his life. Still it came as no surprise to me to read that he had shot himself; cancer had already doomed his body, and at age 73, he chose his own road to eternity.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.