This article talks about Richard Moe’s ’59 upcoming visit to Duluth. Moe is the president of the National Trust.

The nation’s most powerful historic preservationist sees great potential in Duluth’s past.

And not just because he grew up here in the 1940s.

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is scheduled to visit his hometown Thursday and Friday. He’ll give speeches, help raise money for history-minded local groups and tour a few of Duluth’s most-prized landmarks.

Duluth preservationists, city leaders and others hope that when he returns to Washington, D.C., he’ll help to unlock cash and expert advice as the city begins working to capitalize on its many aging buildings.

“Next to Bob Dylan, he’s probably Duluth’s most famous native son,” said Duluth preservationist Carolyn Sundquist, one of two Minnesota representatives to the National Trust’s Board of Advisers.

Number 2 behind Bob Dylan! No shame in that.

Under Moe’s leadership, the National Trust phased out its reliance on federal appropriations in favor of fund-raising through the private sector. Congress had been allocating $5 million to $7 million a year to the trust. But appropriations shrunk and were proving unpredictable. Moe decided to do without them.

A year ago, he and the National Trust completed a campaign to raise $125 million through private sources. That money fuels a variety of endowments and pays for much of the trust’s preservation activities nationwide.

“I regard myself as being a very lucky man,” Moe said. “I get to work with people every day who are equally as passionate about history. My hobby is my job. I love it. I’ve had a chance to learn about this country in a very special way. I’ve learned that, like Duluth, every community has something very special about it.”

In our recent discussion of the embarassment of having David Halberstam give, virtually word-for-word, the same Commencement address at Williams that he gave two weeks earlier, I suggested that Williams ought to search more closely among its alumni for Commencement speakers. (d)avid wondered:

How many alums are you going to find who:
a) Will find the time to come and prepare a speech?
b) Have accomplished something worthy of an honorary degree?
c) Have something interesting to say?
d) Are famous?
e) Will be on the radar screen of a committee?

Well, Moe is at least the 5th alum that I have found, in just the reunion classes of ‘x4 and ‘x9, who would do well on most of these dimensions. Of course, whether or not he is “famous” depends on your point of view, but I don’t really think that fame should be an important criteria in any event.

The National Trust has been in the news recently over its decision to name the entire state of Vermont one of America’s 11 most endangered historic places. Almost certainly a suspect decision on the merits, but a great way to get in the news and help with fundraising.

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