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I received notice today of the passing of Martin Duggan, a marvelous man who dedicated much of his long life to helping parents enroll their children in schools that would give them a better chance of succeeding in life. It was a noble cause that benefited literally millions of children across the U.S., only a tiny fraction of whom will ever know the name of their benefactor.
The Heartland Institute gave Martin and Mae, his equally wonderful and committed wife, a Heartland Liberty Prize at our anniversary benefit in 1999. It was a small gesture to a couple who deserved much, much more. Four-hundred-and-fifty people attended that event at the Palmer House in Chicago and gave the Duggans a well-deserved standing ovation. (Walter Williams delivered the keynote address that year.)
Over the years, Heartland did many projects with CEF, playing junior partner to two giants in what we all understood to be the most important civil rights movement of the late-twentieth and now the twenty-first centuries. Their commitment, sacrifices, and cheery disposition in the face of determined opposition from the “public school monopoly” provided the best role models Diane and I could ever ask for.
The Duggans honored me by allowing me to deliver keynote addresses at the 35th (1994), 40th (1999) and 50th (2009) anniversary celebrations of Citizens for Educational Freedom, the first organization created in the U.S. to advocate for school choice (and vouchers in particular). (The photo above is from the 2009 event.) I’ll never forget those events or the kindness extended by the Duggans to someone nearly 40-years their junior and whose contributions to the cause were tiny compared to their own.
Martin will be sorely missed, and our sympathy goes out to Mae, along with our sincere thanks to her for sharing Martin with us for all those years.