The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Small Business Loses Tough Champion...

Early last week, I was notified by friends at the Small Business Administration of the passing of Peter Sorum, acting National Ombudsman for Small Business. Peter had become a good friend over the years, and in him I'd come to know one of small businesses' best champions. For the uninitiated, the National Ombudsman works with small business owners who feel that they are being treated unfairly by federal regulatory agencies. It's a great, if often overlooked, program.

Here is Peter's obituary from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Peter Sorum worked for U.S. presidents
Trudi Hahn, Star Tribune
December 3, 2005

Peter Sorum spent Thanksgiving 1975 in China, preparing the way for his boss' visit in December. His boss was President Gerald Ford, and the visit would be only the second by a U.S. president to the Communist giant, closed since the 1949 revolution to anything American.

Across three decades, Sorum mixed politics, an education in the hospitality industry and small-business experience to fashion a career in which he served presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. He died Nov. 25 in Washington, D.C., after complications from a fall in late October. He was 58, and the acting national ombudsman for the Small Business Administration.

Sorum, a Minnesota native, lived in St. Charles and moved with his family at age 12 to Rochester, Minn. A high school research paper exploring cooperation between Michael's restaurant and the Kahler Hotel helped him earn a college scholarship from John Marshall High School in 1964, said his sister, Ellen Sorum of Minnetonka. The scholarship was to Michigan State University's Hotel and Restaurant School, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1968.

After graduation, he joined the Michigan State administration as assistant to the registrar. At the same time, he became active in politics, including the campaign of Michigan's Gov. William Milliken in 1970 and a spot on a reelection committee for President Nixon in 1972.

When Nixon resigned during the Watergate scandal in 1974, his successor, Ford, asked Sorum to be a special assistant to the First Family in the Advance Office that made travel arrangements for family and presidential trips to all 50 states and 10 countries, including the 1975 visit to China.

Sorum's experience there led to his involvement in bringing delegations of Chinese businessmen to the United States, including a group that attended the APEC Customs Trade Symposium in Seattle in November 1993. It was believed to be the first delegation ever permitted to leave China without official Chinese governmental sponsorship.

After his service to Ford, in 1977 he became vice president of the fundraising company for the campaigns of several GOP senators, including Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota. He also was a senior adviser to the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Despite Sorum's involvement at top levels of U.S. politics, he still believed "you put your pants on one leg at a time whether you're going to the White House or to the coffee shop," his sister said.

In 1983, Sorum founded Maple Eagle International, a company that marketed interactive educational softwaredeveloped by a Canadian university. In the 1980s and 1990s he also was involved in publishing "The Word," a magazine for the Marine Corps Reserve Officers' Association and "Japan Now," a monthly from the Japanese Embassy.

He joined the Small Business Administration in 2001, where he held several posts, including acting national ombudsman intermittently from September 2003 until his death.

Sorum's papers from the Ford administration have been donated to the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Mich.

In addition to his sister Ellen Sorum, survivors include his wife, Mary Claire Hamlin, of Alexandria, Va.; daughter Priscilla Alden Sorum of St. Louis Mo.; brothers Gary of Minnetonka and David of Minneapolis; and his mother, Mary Evelyn Sorum of Rochester.

Private family services will be held at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Rochester. A memorial is pending in January in Washington.

Copyright 2005 Star Tribune. All rights reserved

Godspeed, Peter. Thank you for your years of service, for your work on behalf of small business, and for being a good friend.

- Andrew Langer


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