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William Safire Comes to Lexington 

Media Contact: Mary Margaret Colliver, 859-361-1887 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 22, 2008) William Safire, renowned columnist, author and speaker, will be the guest speaker for the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation's 22nd annual dinner on Oct. 16, 2008 at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington.

Safire is chairman of the Dana Foundation and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. The Dana Alliance is comprised of more than 265 neuroscientists dedicated to raising awareness of the latest progress in brain research. Safire is a winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and in 2006 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was also a senior White House speechwriter for President Nixon and the author of Freedom, a novel of Lincoln and the Civil War. In 1972, Safire became a political columnist for The New York Times and continues to write a Sunday column for the New York Times Magazine.

"The UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging is privileged to have William Safire as our featured guest for our 22nd anniversary celebration and fundraiser," said Jodie Bingham, director of the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation. "His political background makes him an ideal candidate to discuss the current activities of our political parties and to hear his comments close to the national election."

Safire, 77, says "retire" is a terrible word. As chairman of the Dana Foundation, Safire says he got into this field as a volunteer, first helping to publicize the foundation's work. "This is the best way for older people to ease into the next job," said Safire. "You have to invest in something, a volunteer or an outside interest, so that you got a running jump on the last quarter of your life," he said.

Safire admits that he sometimes misses his old gig. "Oh, once in a while, you get up in the morning and you see something in the paper and then you know what you would write as a column," he said. "That passes."

But even if you are busy with your current life and job, Safire says it's always important to think about the next thing. Those who don't are kidding themselves. "If you can't spend fives minutes in the course of a day saying hey, what's next for me and what do I get involved in, then when I get to a certain age, it's not a surprise and I have to look wildly and say what do I do now. I say never retire."

Safire attended Syracuse University; a dropout after two years, he returned a generation later to deliver the commencement address and is now a trustee emeritus. From 1955 to 1968, Safire was a public relations executive in New York City. He was responsible for bringing President Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev together in the 1959 Moscow "kitchen" debate to publicize his client's kitchen. In 1968, he left to join the campaign of Richard Nixon.

Besides being the author of Freedom, he published Scandalmongers, explaining the roots of liberty of the press. "Safire's Political Dictionary" has helped generations of politicians and voters understand one another; its fully updated 5th edition was published in April 2008. His anthology of great speeches, "Lend Me Your Ears," is the best seller in that field.

Safire is married to Helene Safire, a glass artist; they have a son and daughter. The Safires live in a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Attended by about 800 people each year, the dinner features speakers who focus on, and are examples of, successful aging. Previous guest speakers have included such well-known figures as Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Coach John Wooden, Barbara Bush, Colin Powell, John Glenn, Bob Dole, Art Linkletter, Willard Scott, Lauren Bacall, Andy Rooney, Hugh Downs, Newt Gingrich and Ed McMahon.

The UK Sander-Brown Center on Aging has been conducting research on Alzheimer's disease, stroke and other aging related concerns for almost 30 years. The center was established in 1979 and is one of 10 original National Institutes of Health-funded Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers. It is internationally acclaimed for its progress in the fight against illnesses that face everyone and their families as they grow older.

The center is dedicated to advancing the well being of the elderly. Its major goal is to support healthy aging. It is at the forefront of research on prevention, early diagnosis of dementing diseases and studies on the causes of those diseases. The center also is one of five Commonwealth of Kentucky Centers of Excellence and is a recognized leading center.

Foundation board members from around Kentucky personally support the center and serve as ambassadors for it in key areas. Private contributions have helped raise the center to its current level. UK's Center on Aging Foundation helps secure private gifts for the center's important work. In its lifetime, this fundraising organization has made progress in obtaining support from corporations, foundations and individuals. Although every source of funding is important, private support through charitable gifts has become more significant than ever because of the increased costs of research and uncertain funding from state and federal sources. Private donations allow the center to sustain and develop new and innovative clinical research projects and to develop patient and caregiver programs that will lead to key advances in both the treatment and prevention of diseases that affect the elderly.

For more information about the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and the foundation and its annual fundraising event, call 859-323-5374.  

Page last updated: 11/20/2013 3:40:42 PM