On Nantucket, the Town flew flags at half-mast and at St. Mary’s, about 75 people attended daily Mass, where Sen. Edward Kennedy was remembered. “I wish he’d been president,” said K. Dun Gifford, former aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy and former campaign director for Sen. Robert Kennedy. “I was thinking this morning about what could have been different had he been president.”
Longtime Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy died late last night at his Hyannisport home after a 15 month battle with brain cancer.
On Nantucket, the town flew flags at half-mast, and at St. Mary’s, about 75 people attended daily Mass, where the senator was remembered.
“I wish he’d been president,” said K. Dun Gifford, former aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy and former campaign director for Sen. Robert Kennedy. “I was thinking this morning about what could have been different had he been president.”
Gifford remembered the first time he met Ted.
“We met sailing. They came over to Nantucket to sail. We had gone to Harvard and we had mutual friends and we belonged to the same fraternity,” said Gifford. “We also drank together!”
After college, Gifford went to Washington to work for U.S. Housing and Urban Development in 1963. Robert Kennedy was in charge of the senate hearings that investigated urban unrest and Gifford was sent to the hearings by HUD to monitor them. During the hearings, Gifford befriended Robert Kennedy’s aides and eventually was asked by Robert Kennedy if he would like to become an aide for Ted Kennedy.
“I think I should be hearing about the job offer from Teddy instead of you,” said Gifford. “’You’re right, said Bobby, ‘Let’s get Teddy on the phone.’”
“What I loved about both of them was their directness,” said Gifford. “They just said what was on their minds. You could change their minds if you could prove them wrong.”
Gifford was an aide to Ted Kennedy for six years, but had to leave government work for the private sector to support his growing family. He and Ted have remained friends over the years.
“I saw him on the Cape 18 months ago, before he got really sick,” said Gifford. “He was the same old guy, just joking and teasing, we had fun. We had a good time together.”
Gifford recalled the work he did with Kennedy on the Islands Trust Bill in the early ‘70s.
“The Islands Trust Bill came about because he wanted to extend his brother’s [President John F. Kennedy’s] vision,” said Gifford, of the bill that would have protected Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth’s Islands from development, similar to the Cape Cod National Seashore.
While the bill did not pass, mostly islanders fear of the federal government regulating Nantucket, it did prompt much needed zoning regulations for the island to be passed and sparked the island’s conservation efforts by Walter Beinecke and Roy Larson.
The Nantucket Independent