By CSF President Darla Romfo
In the midst of the sadness, I have loved reading all that has been written about our friend and co-founder Ted Forstmann since his passing on Sunday. His contributions to the world of finance, philanthropy, and education reform are well known by now. I feel very fortunate to have known him on a slightly more personal level through my work at the Children’s Scholarship Fund. As one friend summed it up for me today, “Ted cared about education and philanthropy way before all the stars started making pledges. He was a true pioneer with some steadfast values. And he had such clarity about what was fundamentally right.”
Perhaps that is the character trait that is most admired–his clarity and conviction about what was fundamentally right. He taught me that you have to get the first things right or things will eventually fall apart. From that conviction was born the Children’s Scholarship Fund. He wanted to change what wasn’t fundamentally right in education. Ted knew that parents are the first educators of their children and that if you empower them they will try to do the best that they can for their children. If you don’t honor that truth, things will break down. Of course he was right. He touched a chord with parents who overwhelmingly responded by applying for partial scholarships and telling him they were eternally grateful for the opportunity.
I often wrote Ted notes to pass along something that a child or a parent had said or something that had happened on a visit to a school. I remember writing to Ted in a note at one point telling him that he would not know on this side of heaven all the good he has done. Well, my mentor and friend, now you and John both know all the good you have done. Please watch over us, our work, and all our kids. We love you and we will miss you.