Illinois Activist, Writer, Ralf Seiffe, RIP‏

I met Mr. Seiffe many times, though I never interacted much with him. Still, he was a staple around Republican politics for years here in the Chicagoland area. Mr. Seiffe passed away this week from a heart attack.

John Tillman worte a great little memorial of Seiffe, so instead of me fumbling my way through an accounting of his great work, I’ll Joh Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute speak to the matter…

The liberty movement lost a great friend when Ralf Seiffe died unexpectedly yesterday morning. Ralf was truly of one life’s unique characters that come along all too rarely. Ralf was a joyful lover of life, people, history, culture and, of course, liberty. Ralf was a fountain of creativity. He always had a breadth and depth of knowledge on his many brainstorms, but what was so amazing to me was that he always knew more pertinent and interesting information about my crazy ideas than I did. Not only that, he could add value to the idea of the guy on the bar stool sitting next to us on a Friday afternoon at Hackneys.

One day, Ralf’s business partner, Richard Lorenc, a friend of mine and former colleague, came to me and said, “I was thinking of starting a business that would bring people of modest means together who love liberty and help them aggregate their giving power to create an impact on the liberty movement.”

He shared further details. I told Richard that it was an interesting idea. Truthfully, I didn’t get it. Eventually Richard and Ralf got together to discuss this idea and what has evolved is a very creative, amazing concept whose future is bright. When Ralf heard the very same idea, his mind opened and he deployed his vast intellect, his creativity and his passion to help Richard make the idea better and implementable. My mind was closed, but Ralf’s was open and creative. That was Ralf.

Ralf was like that about everything. When I decided to launch a “liberty campaign” with the Illinois Policy Institute as the anchor organization, everyone told me it was hopeless. Ralf said, “What a great idea, how can I help?”

And help he did. Day-by-day, month-by-month throughout 2007, his counsel, insight and encouragement, fueled by many brainstorming sessions at Hackneys, helped me overcome obstacles and improve results. A small part of me wishes that he did this only for me, but the truth is that Ralf would help you even if he just met you five minutes ago. When you said you wanted to start a business involving Persian horses, Ralf would say, “Let me tell you about the history of the Persian horse and why it became famous…” And he’d somehow know that history and make it relevant to your idea. Then he would help you make your idea better and go off on his merry way.

Years ago a fellow traveler in the liberty movement had been told I said something unflattering about him. It wasn’t true but he had heard it and sent me an email firing with both barrels. Ralf was a mutual friend. I reached out to Ralf to see if he could help bridge this gap. Ralf dropped everything, made some phone calls and because of that diplomacy Dan Proft and I are now great friends. We wouldn’t be if not for Ralf. When I think about how much I enjoy my friendship with Dan, I think of Ralf…and I am grateful.

Last summer Ralf’s son Rhys interned with us. We loved having Rhys around all summer. He brought the same joy of life, interesting personality and love of liberty that his Dad did. He also worked really hard, just like his Dad, whether paid or not.

All of us at the Institute are thinking of Ralf’s family. We are thinking of Richard, Dan, Sheila and all the people who adored Ralf. We are hoping that the warm memories of Ralf’s smile, his endearing habit of taking his glasses off and on repeatedly, his happy laughter that filled the room with his wit and soul, all help to soften the sharp edges of sorrow.

I am sure that as I write this Ralf is talking to St. Peter and saying, “Let me tell you about the history of the Pearly Gates…”

Ralf Seiffe, you will be missed by many. RIP.


John Tillman
Illinois Policy Institute

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