March 4, 2013

Tom Staed

Hotelier Tom Staed, one of Lawton Chiles' premier supporters in Daytona Beach, Florida, has passed away.

Staed helped on both Chiles' Senate and gubernatorial campaigns.

I interviewed Staed a few years ago. We sat in his office at one of his oceanside hotels in Daytona. We talked about the Chiles campaigns and how unique they were. It was a privilege to hear so many details from a partner in these pioneering campaign strategies.

I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to record so many insights from elders while they lived, and print the best of them in Walkin' Lawton.

My paternal grandfather was a WWII veteran and an ace pilot. He would relate story after colorful story about life in the skies, life in rural Virginia, life as a storyteller and newspaperman. I'm fortunate to have learned the nuances of oral history from such a talented practitioner. So many of his stories are seared in my memory for all time.

When I sat down with elder Chiles associates like Staed, I did my best to apply the lessons learned at the knee of my Grandpa. Mostly, in my grandfather's living room, I learned how to listen effectively. Many of his stories were told twice or thrice or many times more. For me, the game was to listen for what new shade of intrigue my grandfather offered during his new telling. That novelty was an adventure always.

The political legacy of Tom Staed and many other luminary Chiles associates--a great oral history--lives on in the pages of Walkin' Lawton.