Remarks At Memorial Service For Rod Hills
November 24, 2014
This town is preoccupied with victories and defeats in political struggles. Yet it is sustained by men and women who remind us that we will be judged by our reconciliations, not our controversies. Rod Hills was one such individual. Utterly decent, matter-of-fact, thoughtful, he incarnated a commitment to serve rather than the obsessive quest to be. He prevailed by serenity rather than intensity; and in his very unobtrusiveness recalled his colleagues in whatever enterprise to their deeper values.
Our paths first crossed forty years ago, when Rod became Deputy White House Counsel in the Ford administration. One of his assignments was to act as liaison to the congressional committees investigating U.S. intelligence activities. Rod supplied calm and balance to a tormenting atmosphere and helped restore harmony to our society and faith in our country.
In the decades since, I have observed Rod practice his special combination of conciliation and purpose in many contexts: as Chairman of the SEC, as Chairman of the US-ASEAN Business Council, and as Founder of the Hills Program on Governance.
We go through life looking for hidden treasures only to discover, at the end, what is left to us is friendship. Rod and I saw each other several times a year, at social occasions, at academic seminars, or at international meetings. I came to consider these encounters as respites. At every one, Rod found the opportunity to convey how much he cared for projects I was working on and turned them into shared concerns. Over the decades, Rod became an important part of the furniture of my life.
Nothing defined Rod so much as his love for Carla. In Corinthians 13, St. Paul said that of all the spiritual qualities, love is the most important. For those who saw Carla and Rod together, the defining recollection will be the radiance of their love for each other. After fifty-plus years of marriage, one could see them holding hands, and they took such joyful pride in each other.
For their friends, Rod’s passing leaves a void which is considerable, if infinitesimal compared to what Carla is confronting. But we all know—even in our sadness—that we would not trade places with those who never knew Rod and that this consciousness will sustain our revered friend Carla.