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March 02, 2009

The Rest of the Story about Paul Harvey

The HSUS lost one of its most remarkable supporters this weekend. And the nation lost one of its most familiar and influential and compassionate voices.

On Saturday, the legendary radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey, died in Phoenix at 90, less than a year after his beloved wife Lynne, or "Angel" as he called her, passed away. He was one of America’s best known voices, with his "News & Comment" and "The Rest of the Story" carried on more than 1,200 ABC stations and 400 Armed Forces Radio stations and his column published in 300 newspapers. In 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Paul Harvey and family
© ABC Radio Networks
Paul Harvey with his wife Angel and son Paul Jr.

Some animal advocates may not be aware that Paul and Angel were two of the best friends that the animal protection movement and The HSUS ever had, and the same must be said of their surviving son, Paul Harvey Jr. This triumvirate supported the work of our organization on countless fronts, with the support from the elder Harveys dating back to the nascent days of the organization in the mid-1950s and continuing through our work today. In one way or another, they worked with all of the six CEOs of The HSUS since the group’s founding in 1954.

The September 1956 issue of HSUS News records that Harvey reported on the activity of the House Agricultural Committee in regard to humane slaughter during his Aug. 12 broadcast, and that he had devoted at least one other broadcast to the topic of the humane slaughter campaign. He also appealed for an end to slaughterhouse cruelties in his syndicated newspaper column. He visited a Chicago slaughterhouse to watch the killing as part of his orientation to the issue, and he gave the keynote address at The HSUS’s Oct. 5, 1956 annual conference. The federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act was enacted in 1958.

During his remarkable decades-long broadcast career, he spoke out against almost every form of cruelty—puppy mills, animal fighting, seal clubbing, and factory farming. And he endorsed the landmark farm animal protection ballot initiatives in his winter home state of Arizona (Proposition 204) in 2006 and in California (Proposition 2) in 2008. With a generally conservative political orientation, his unyielding support for animal protection was a reminder to all his millions of listeners that this cause was not of the Left or the Right, but one that every decent American should embrace.

Paul and Angel were proud of their association with The HSUS, and Paul received both a 1986 Genesis Award and, in 1987, our inaugural James Herriot Award. In 2004, acknowledging an upcoming milestone for the organization, Paul and Angel sponsored our 50th anniversary concert celebration at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, featuring pianist Van Cliburn. Van Cliburn played to a packed house, with dozens of U.S. Senators and Representatives in attendance—a reminder of the place and purpose of The HSUS in our culture.

In recent years, Paul Harvey Jr. has been the sole writer for the show, and he assumed a greater share of broadcast responsibilities. He is one of the most remarkable, talented, and kind men I know. On behalf of the entire HSUS family, I send condolences to him. He knows, perhaps more than anyone, the profound effect that his parents had on American culture and indeed the modern American humane movement. We are immensely grateful to the Harvey family, and Paul Harvey’s passing this weekend is a moment of profound sadness for us all.

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