Though Rick Ahearn was just some toes from John Hinckley Jr. when he opened fireplace on Ronald Reagan and his entourage exterior the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981, he was more than likely among the many final individuals within the metropolis to know that the president had been shot.
That’s as a result of as quickly as Secret Service brokers shoved Mr. Reagan into his limousine, simply seconds after Mr. Hinckley started taking pictures, Mr. Ahearn was on the bottom giving first support to James S. Brady, the White House press secretary, who had been hit within the head and was bleeding profusely on the sidewalk.
“All I had to hold that together was my pocket handkerchief and some handkerchiefs given to me by people in the crowd,” Mr. Ahearn informed Neil Cavuto of Fox News in 2021.
Mr. Ahearn was the president’s advance man, in control of planning the logistics of Mr. Reagan’s journeys, all the way down to particulars just like the closest medical heart. He helped get Mr. Brady into an ambulance and ordered the driving force to take them to George Washington University Hospital.
The presidential limousine was already there. But Mr. Ahearn assumed that Mr. Reagan was there to examine on Mr. Brady, who was rushed into surgical procedure.
“And it was only after we went into the emergency room, Jim into one treatment room, that I saw Dave Fischer and Mike Deaver” — two different Reagan aides — “on the telephone,” Mr. Ahearn mentioned within the 2021 interview. “And they told me the president was in a treatment room. And they did not know what his condition was.”
Mr. Reagan had been shot within the chest, the bullet barely lacking his coronary heart. Mr. Ahearn was the primary official to temporary the press on the hospital, and he remained there lengthy after the president left on April 11, caring for Mr. Brady and his spouse, Sarah. (Mr. Brady died in 2014. Sarah Brady died in 2015.)
Mr. Ahearn, who was thought to be probably the greatest advance males in Republican politics, died on Nov. 14 at a hospital in New Bedford, Mass. He was 74. His companion, Maria Mastorakos, mentioned the trigger was cardiac arrest introduced on by current surgical procedure.
The 1981 disaster cemented Mr. Ahearn’s already helpful place inside the Reagan internal circle (he had joined the president’s marketing campaign in 1979). Though he was not often within the highlight, he was among the many president’s most trusted advisers, planning each second of his public appearances.
“Rick Ahearn doesn’t exactly tuck the Reagans into bed at night, and he is not involved in any policymaking,” The Boston Globe mentioned in a 1980 profile. “But he is one of the first people they see in the morning and the last they see at night.”
He inspired Mr. Reagan to combine with common people — for instance by visiting a blue-collar Irish bar within the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, or by strolling via a Moscow buying district throughout a break in arms management talks within the Soviet Union.
Mr. Ahearn did related work for dozens of different candidates and workplace holders, together with each Republican presidential candidate from Richard M. Nixon in 1972 to Donald J. Trump in 2020, when he led negotiations with the Biden marketing campaign over debate preparations.
Frederick Leonard Ahearn was born on Nov. 6, 1949, in Boston. His father, Francis X. Ahearn, was a Democratic politician who served as president of the Boston City Council and later as Massachusetts deputy secretary of state; his mom, Doris (Johnson) Ahearn, was a homemaker.
Rick received into politics early, handing out leaflets for native Democratic candidates and later working the crowds at election rallies. He labored for Senator Hubert H. Humphrey’s 1968 presidential marketing campaign as a scholar at Boston College.
Shortly after graduating with a level in business administration, he labored once more for Mr. Humphrey, becoming a member of his marketing campaign within the 1972 Democratic primaries. But Mr. Humphrey’s loss to the extra liberal Senator George S. McGovern left Mr. Ahearn despondent and offended.
“I consider myself a Democrat without a home, and unless I see some distinct changes in the Democratic Party, I will become a Republican,” he mentioned in an interview with The Associated Press that yr.
He not solely switched events; he labored for the Republican incumbent, Mr. Nixon, within the common election. He later labored within the Nixon White House, after which for President Gerald R. Ford’s unsuccessful marketing campaign in 1976.
By the late Seventies Mr. Ahearn had earned a status amongst nationwide politicians as a reliable, detail-oriented skilled, and he was at all times in demand. He labored on George H.W. Bush’s first presidential marketing campaign in 1979, and when that fizzled the following yr, he had no bother being picked up by Mr. Bush’s rival, Mr. Reagan.
Mr. Ahearn was a creature of politics, not coverage, however in between races he did work in numerous administrations, together with as a deputy assistant secretary below Jack Kemp, Mr. Bush’s secretary of housing and concrete improvement.
When Mr. Bush misplaced the 1992 race, Mr. Ahearn went to work for Mr. Kemp’s free-market advocacy group, Empower America, after which joined the marketing campaign workers of Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee. (Mr. Kemp was his working mate.)
Mr. Ahearn married Pamela Gardner in 1990. She died in 2007. Along with Ms. Mastorakos, he’s survived by his brother, Kevin.
He continued to serve Mr. Reagan lengthy after he left the White House. He and one other Reagan advance man, Jim Hooley, spent many years planning the president’s funeral — particularly after 1994, when Mr. Reagan introduced he had Alzheimer’s illness. They referred to as the plan Operation Serenade.
They deliberate each second of the nationwide commemoration, held days after Mr. Reagan’s demise in 2004, together with particulars as granular because the situation of the empty boots that sat within the stirrups of the riderless horse following the president’s caisson through the funeral procession. (They have been scuffed however not dusty, Mr. Ahearn determined, and he cleaned them himself.)
“One final opportunity to advance a major event for Ronald Reagan,” Mr. Ahearn informed The Wall Street Journal, “is something none of us will ever forget.”