Thank you for publishing John Fund’s touching tribute to J. Patrick Rooney, who died this week at the age of 80. The founder of the Golden Rule Insurance Company and the pioneer of private school vouchers for underprivileged children was indeed a “kind and gentle soul”.
In May 2001, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Rooney for Foundation Watch regarding his ideas on education. During our discussion, he confided that although he didn’t talk a lot about religion, spirituality was very important to him. The Bible, he noted, makes “quite clear” the instruction to do good works for the less fortunate.
“And so,” Mr. Rooney said, “I would like to do good works so that the Lord would be pleased with me. And helping the parents who don’t have the resources of their own, I thought, would be a good thing.”
Today, there are more than 50,000 needy students attending private schools on voucher programs inspired by J. Patrick Rooney who would testify, along with their parents, that he did a lot of a good thing. And as the school-choice movement continues to grow, the Rooney legacy will become all the greater.
Robert Holland ([email protected]) is Senior Fellow for Education Policy at The Heartland Institute.