‘The tackiest, most disrespectful . . . piece’ Casey has ever written!
Note from Dan: The following appeared as an op-ed in today’s paper. It was a response to Sunday’s column, a parody about the Taubman Museum of Art. The headline of the op-ed is “Parody can be useful; disrespect never is.” It was signed by three well-known Roanoke business leaders: Warner Dalhouse, Bittle Porterfield and Jay Turner.
Although we are a bit ashamed to admit it now, we do often read Dan Casey’s column in The Roanoke Times. He is sometimes amusing, sometimes effective at puncturing pomposity, speaking truth to power.
But his attempt at parody in his column in Sunday’s paper, Oct.28, “Dream a little dream of the Taubman,” was perhaps the tackiest, most disrespectful, even obtuse, piece he has ever done.
Heywood Fralin and Nick Taubman are Roanoke Valley and commonwealth of Virginia leaders in the tradition of the finest we have ever produced. Jack Hancock, Frank Clement, Gordon Willis, Ed Mattern, Bill Hopkins Sr. and Jack Fishwick come to mind as peers of these two outstanding citizens and leaders.
These two men and their families have done as much or more for this community than any who have ever lived here. Horace Fralin, Heywood’s older brother, created the charitable trust that Heywood administers that only recently pledged $5 million to Virginia Western Community College, where more of our job training takes place than anywhere else.
Medical Facilities of America, chaired by Heywood and now run by his son William, a former member of the General Assembly, employs almost 1,000 people in this area — extremely valuable jobs.
Arthur Taubman, Nick’s father, founded Advance Auto Parts in Roanoke. He was, like his son, a significant philanthropist and progressive leader in Roanoke and Virginia. Advance is now the only Fortune500 company headquartered here. Nick Taubman built it into a national competitor in the automobile parts business, and Advance now employs almost 1,500people in this area.
Nick Taubman even served as ambassador to Romania, appointed by President GeorgeW. Bush. Only one other Roanoker has had such a prestigious appointment.
Nick and his wife, Jenny, have, in the past two years, made grants of $2.5million to arts and cultural organization in the Roanoke Valley, concerned that the art museum’s capital campaign might have drained money from these other organizations. Casey should have done a column on this singular act of generosity.
We know, because we were there, that Heywood Fralin and Nick Taubman and their families and their businesses were significantly involved in the creation of Center in the Square, the reopening of Hotel Roanoke, the Jefferson Center and, of course, the Taubman Museum of Art. They gave not only money but time, effort, influence and advice, all critical to the success of these unique Roanoke Valley organizations.
Whatever disparaging remarks Casey might make about the architecture of the art museum, it is there; it isn’t going away. He should get over it.
But to be disrespectful of their continued support of the museum and the value these two men have created in our community is shameful, irresponsible and tacky.
We understand parody and irreverence and often applaud their use as clever insightful tools in highlighting hypocrisy or hollow pomposity. But Casey was so caught up in his own shtick, he lost perspective on what is really important.
Applause, admiration, gratitude would all be in order. Smart-aleck self-indulgence such as displayed in Casey’s column is surely out of order.
Each of us has three things to offer: time, talent and resources. The Fralins and the Taubmans have scored highly on each count, and they continue to do so.
Casey has done a disservice to his newspaper as well as his community. We hope, on reflection, that he agrees.