From the CFACT Family:
Let us tell you about David Rothbard.
It is up to each of us to live honorably, kindly, and make a difference where we can.
CFACT President David Rothbard was a champion.
On Friday, David died. At home. Surrounded by those he loved. At 53 years he was too young, yet the life he lived was filled to overflowing. He leaves his wife Kelly and daughters Emily, Ashley and Lydia – the joys of his life and all who know them.
David Rothbard was a man of deep faith. That faith sustained him and all around him as he prepared for the inevitable outcome of the cancer that would take his life. Modern medicine had done all it could. In fact, for some time it looked like the latest and greatest treatments available had succeeded. It was not to be. David faced the day that must come for us all, with a bravery and serenity that provides an example to follow. His concern was for others. It always was.
There are endless memories to share about David. We can’t hope to more than scratch the surface.
Here’s one: David was by far our best and most precise copy editor. (Should that have been a colon, a dash or a semicolon, David? We could Google it. We’d rather ask you. You didn’t like long parentheticals, either). David would never approve the rambling stream of consciousness before you now. “Cut it in half,” he’d say, “get to the point.” Sorry, David, not today, we’ll strive toward your standards again next week!
Another memory: David was an avid baseball fan – particularly his beloved NY Mets. In early years, he would often weave his two passions together, CFACT and baseball, as best he could. “Hey David, we have meetings to arrange in San Francisco, Dallas and Phoenix – when do you want these set up?” Out would come the sports page. After a quick look by David at the baseball schedule for the teams in those towns … et voila, the schedule would somehow magically come together!
David’s public life can be summarized in two words: Defending Freedom. Like everyone at CFACT, David Rothbard was a freedom person. Americans take our liberties and freedoms for granted. David did not. Those who came before us knew this for folly. They carved the word deep into granite and marble to remind us. They wrote it into our founding documents. Sang about it. Fought for it. Take a coin from your pocket. What word do you find there bigger and prouder than all the rest? “Liberty!”
Freedom is the natural, God-ordained right of each of us — yet is not the rule for most. Billions have walked this globe. The number who lived in some state of genuine freedom under the rule of law are comparatively few. Freedom is exceptional. It is precious. Sadly, it is now endangered and needs protection.
Did freedom ever have a greater champion than Ronald Reagan? “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” He told us. “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” David came of age during Reagan’s presidency. He was a “Reagan revolutionary.” A young David Rothbard accepted the task.
David Rothbard and his friend and ally for life Craig Rucker met protecting students’ right to free speech on college campuses. They freed thousands from being forced to fund radical organizations and ideologies through mandatory student fees. Together they formed an exceptionally dynamic team. They became brothers with a bond surer than mere blood could provide.
In the course of their work they perceived other, subtler, more pernicious threats to freedom that others discounted. The hard Left had long dominated issues such as labor and finance. They never encountered private success they did not want to tax, regulate and control. Government would never be too big for them. However, hard experience, at home and abroad, revealed their dogma to be bankrupt.
Freedom is efficient. Bureaucratic control is not. The facts were in.
As their economic grip began to slip, the Left sought new avenues to power. What cause is more self-evident, more universally popular, than environmental protection? We love this Earth and want it sparkling clean and teaming with life. Vital work was done to clean our air and rivers and preserve our forests and oceans. Frustrated on other fronts, the Left saw this and began moving environmental protection away from its noble goal of conservation towards their dreams of redistribution and control. David Rothbard and Craig Rucker saw this threat early. They resolved to spread the alarm. They formulated a plan of action. Events have since proven them prescient.
In 1985 they co-founded CFACT, The Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow. Take note of that word, “constructive.” There is only one force powerful enough to create the wealth, prosperity and scientific innovation it takes to ensure the well-being of people and nature too, and that’s individual freedom. Anything else is an invitation to decline.
David and Craig strode confidently into the fray. They built, researched and revealed. They empowered others to do the same with an openness and generosity of spirit not everyone in the realm of public policy employs. They took on challenges others had neglected. CFACT became the preeminent organization fully engaged in international diplomacy through the United Nations environmental process. They were there and making a difference during the first UN Rio “Earth Summit.” When “global warming” became the issue of the day they were there from the start. They bore witness to the formation of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris climate accord. They championed freedom in Durban, Cancun, Copenhagen, Cairo, Kyoto, Buenos Aires, the Hague, Johannesburg, Nairobi and so many other places. They watched “global warming” morph into “climate change” and had the courage to correct the record with every kind of media at their disposal, right up to Climate Hustle, a feature film seen in theaters from coast to coast.
Whether it was immersed in research, educating the public, carrying the torch of technology and freedom to Africa, Asia, Latin America and everywhere people need to advance, presenting his findings before Congress, or empowering others to do the same, David Rothbard was a lighthouse. He showed others the way no matter the darkness nor gloom.
As an entrepreneur in the nonprofit world, David Rothbard, had few equals. Over the years, organizations came and went. CFACT planted its foundations on solid bedrock. David made sure of that. David wanted his work to endure and he left the organization he built so dependable, that it is already continuing on with nary a pause. Everyone at CFACT is resolved to fight on – and continue carrying on David’s legacy.
Can we hope to convey a peek at David the perfect friend, neighbor and family man? Did you know that he was a softball coach extraordinaire? His daughters and so many young women athletes will carry with them memories of David’s patient striving for excellence. Softball was fun, but the chance to learn to live honorably, productively and for others from David was priceless.
We wish everyone could have spent time with the family Rothbard. Those of us who did will always be enriched for life by knowing them. We wish everyone could see the glow in David’s eyes when he beheld his wife Kelly and daughters Emily, Ashley and Lydia. Never was there a better, more devoted husband and father. What a generation of courageous, brilliant young women he gifted this world! If only he could have danced at their weddings. What a grandfather he would have made!
Please accept this rambling, nowhere near complete, nor adequate account of our love, respect and gratitude to David Rothbard. As Shakespeare asked, “when comes such another?”