President's Address

I was saddened to learn of the death of Thomas F. Rafter, Jr., on April 26th of this year. Often in our peer relationships, we only make contact at annual meetings, so I was unaware of the extent of his illness.

Tom was one of four founding fathers of AESE. It is ironic that he died almost 30 years to the day that the initiation of our association took place. (See History of Founding, membership directory.)

As the years pass, we tend to forget what contributions certain individuals make to our professional lives. In addition to his participation in the organizing committee, Tom was the first secretary/treasurer, assisted in the writing and adoption of the Constitution and Bylaws, served as the third president (called chairman until 1974), hosted the fourth annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in 1970, saw the necessity for establishing archives, and, in keeping with his devilish humor, had a hand in creating the Broken Blue Pencil Award—lest we take ourselves too seriously.

Tom was our conscience, a strict constitutionalist who was never reluctant to remind officers of parliamentary procedures. On more than one occasion, he was prompted to distribute Robert’s Rules of Order to board members.

Tom was enthusiastic about AESE and loved the camaraderie of the annual meetings. At receptions, no one could greet you more warmly than Tom Rafter. With that robust laugh and hearty handshake, he was always genuinely interested in your career.

Being a founder, he stood on tradition and felt that there should be a symbol for the AESE presidency. This led him to create his “crab cracker” gavel. This “Rafter original,” first presented in 1977, is passed to each incoming president at the annual meeting. Through this symbol, Tom’s name will be perpetuated in our organization, and in that sense, he will always be with us when we gather each year.

H.L. “Hal” James
P.O. Box 1169
Seeley Lake, MT 59868

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