Ricky Silberman, 1937 – 2007
Charmaine called from Florida after she heard that our friend Rosalie Gaull (Ricky) Silberman died on Sunday after a long struggle with cancer. She was 69.
A woman of many accomplishments, we knew Ricky best for founding the Independent Women’s Forum with Barbara Olson in 1992 after working together on Women for Judge Thomas. Ricky and her husband, have three children and eight grandchildren.
Campaign button for
She was the life-long helpmeet of Judge Laurence (Larry) Silberman. They met as teenagers at a summer camp.
They were one of Washington’s most humble and gracious power couples. It is the little things that reveal character and personality. Ricky was an accomplished woman who ran the EEOC and served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services and did wife duty when Larry was ambassador to Yugoslavia. But what I appreciated and envied the most was the Silberman’s book collection — multiple rooms of with countless shelves with countless books. Ricky and Larry were a team — they had decided early to keep and display most of their books.
The couple that can solve the problem of book-baggage speaks volumes of the relationship.
Ricky was loved and will be missed.
Full Disclosure: Charmaine was honored to serve on the IWF Advisory Board.
Ricky held a number of distinguished positions in public life, including vice chairman and commissioner of the U. S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and as the first executive director of the Office of Compliance at the EEOC. In 2002, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appointed Ricky to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).
In September 1998, Ricky summed up the impetus for establishing IWF when she moderated a panel entitled “The Law, the Spin, the Moral Consequences,” which examined ethical issues surrounding sexual harassment and the Clinton scandals. It was televised on C-Span and included a stellar panel of IWF minded women, Barbara Comstock, Mona Charen, the late Barbara Olson, Kate O’Beirne and Midge Decter.
“IWF was founded,” Ricky said during the panel, “in the early nineties when we first came together in support of then-Judge Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the …Supreme Court. We were concerned that those who would speak for American women were neither telling the truth about Clarence Thomas, nor making sense with respect to issues of crucial importance to American women. We listened to the spin of those days – – the litany that women are victims and men just don’t get it – – and decided that those woebegone women did not speak for us, nor did we think that they spoke for the vast majority of American women. We concluded that the views of commonsense women needed to be heard in our nation’s policy debates.”