I’m proud to say that Pat Babcock was my friend. We met in 1975 when I was a new legislator and Pat was Governor Milliken’s lobbyist. I was a naive but cynical 23-year-old newbie and Pat was already an accomplished 33-year-old leader in state government. He was very smart. He was funny. And he was a thoroughly decent human being. I had not expected to find people like him in the Lansing stratosphere. Seeing him in action and getting to know him made me less cynical, more optimistic.
Pat played many roles in the course of his storied career in public service, inside and outside of state government. One of those was with Public Policy Associates, Inc. When I launched the company in 1991, I approached Pat about joining me. We had both worked for Governor Jim Blanchard and, when he was defeated for reelection, Pat and I were both looking for our next big adventure. He was interested, but instead chose to go with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the faculty of Wayne State University.
As time passed, I would occasionally ask whether he was ready to reconsider. Finally, in 2004, he said the time had come. He joined PPA and became the Director of our Health, Human Services, and Philanthropy group. He remained in that role until 2005, when he switched to Senior Policy Consultant. Although he became less active, he remained in that role for the rest of his life. The young people who had a chance to work with him were forever shaped by his touch as a mentor. Few could have imagined that early in their careers, they would work with a man with his depth of experience, breadth of knowledge, and unbounded good sense.
We continued to meet once in a while for breakfast right up into this year. It was always a pleasure to share a meal with him. He relished being a political renegade and never tired of pushing for government to do better.
Pat Babcock died Sunday, August 5, 2018 after fending off many assaults of cancer over the past eight years. Probably six years ago, he related to me his epiphany about the cancer. “It’s not a disease to be cured; it’s a condition to be managed.” Smart man. He had simply decided to live as well as he could for as long as possible. It wasn’t long enough. I will miss him forever.
On behalf of all of us at PPA, I thank Pat Babcock for what he did for our organization and its clients. Our world needs more like Pat, not fewer. We shall honor his memory by striving to emulate his compassion, humanity, and courage.
Public Policy Associates, Inc.