February 8, 2016
by Bev Lindsey
B.A. Rudolph was my friend — a unique and complex personality with an out-sized heart. She was kind, generous, and loving with an evolved intellect and curiosity, sophisticated though she sometimes tried to disguise it; she always asked questions, pushed buttons, challenged every rule. If she cared about someone or something, she cared deeply and wholeheartedly; if she did not, well, to quote an iconic movie line, she just did not give a damn.
Being B.A.'s friend ensured one of a loyal and fierce supporter until the end of time. B.A. did not accept someone as a friend instantaneously, but once she did it was permanent and virtually irrevocable. For me, being B.A.’s friend was like having a warm blanket at my side — available anytime I needed it. Above all else, the one thing you knew you could count on was B.A.'s loyalty and discretion. You never heard B.A. discussing someone else's issues even though she knew you knew.
B.A. collected friends like one collects precious objects, after carefully considering all the different facets of it. Each friend was valued on his or her own; it was not necessary that any friend fit in with the rest in her life. In fact, she maintained friends and relationships from many different sectors of her life that rarely intersected. She collected and cultivated diversity — of every kind. The collection and diversity of people who gathered to celebrate her life after she died was a testament to the wide net she cast during the many years she spent in Washington.
She welcomed contemporaries, children, friends from long ago, young people arriving in DC on some new adventure, administration officials, K Street biggies, important journalists, ambassadors and members of Congress alike into her circle. She provided advice, comfort, sometimes a meal, sometimes a bed, sometimes a big shoulder, sometimes a kick in the ass, always a helping hand whenever and wherever you needed it.
Yet being B.A.’s friend could be — or, let’s be honest, it sometimes was — a challenge. That girl lived in a whirlwind of activity and sometimes chaos. She was a master of the barbed comment, a professional cynic. She was irreverent. So one had to listen carefully to her comments — because they came quickly and were often veiled—though sometimes, perhaps, not veiled enough.
Her life was an adventure, and she invited—required—her friends to participate.B.A. once gathered a group and flew to New Hampshire, equipped with tiaras and boas, to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday during a campaign — so the friend would not celebrate alone. When hearing one evening that it was one friend's 50th birthday and that friend had received divorce papers in the mail that day, B.A. got out of her pjs, picked up the friend and drove to a restaurant to celebrate. If B.A. spent an evening taking your children to dinner, it was not a simple trip for a hamburger and ice cream. It was dinner at the neighborhood white tablecloth Italian restaurant, complete with lessons on “slurping” spaghetti.
I met B.A. in the early 80’s in Little Rock, AR. She was very young but had already had an exciting career in politics. She left soon for the big adventure in DC but we stayed in touch, and I eventually followed her to DC. Our professional and personal lives crossed many times. We spent many hours talking about politics, going to movies, cooking, choosing colors for her bedroom walls, sewing pillows, planting in her garden, helping each other with professional and personal dilemmas, even watching the flames from the Pentagon on 9/11 with other friends. She never failed or disappointed me. Even in facing death she was a force. And did it her way.
Anyone who knew B.A. benefited from the experience. I was blessed to have had the experience. She added a richness and texture that I might not have had otherwise. And by her having had the vision to establish the B.A. Foundation with its unique mission, and my relationship with it, she has enabled all of us to continue that experience.
Bev Lindsey is mother of two dynamic daughters, four grandchildren, and a world traveler. She had a 40 year career in state and federal government, politics, public relations and OMG events (producing presidential debates, the National Book Festival, press operations for Super Bowl, 3 year old birthday parties, etc.). She is happy now sitting on the sidelines and grateful for friends, present and departed, who made it all possible.more posts by Bev →