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Ex-Lugar aide pays tribute to colleague

Ken Myers Jr., a longtime foreign policy adviser to former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., died Saturday at the age of 72.

Ex-Lugar aide Mark Helmke reported the death to Political Notebook. Although Myers had no Indiana ties apart from working for the Hoosier senator in Washington, Helmke’s recollections of him are worth sharing.

Myers “was one of the most important American policy power brokers the past 30 years you never heard of. Myers wanted it that way,” Helmke wrote Tuesday in a tribute to him.

The Manassas, Va., resident had been “schooled” by Henry Kissinger when Myers worked for the National Security Council in the Nixon administration, Helmke wrote. He joined Lugar’s office in 1983 and was a senior staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Lugar was either chairman or top-ranking Republican of the panel.

“Myers was secretive, smart and sarcastic,” Helmke wrote. “He hated purveyors of ‘BS’ and junior members of Congress and staffers who were overly pompous.... He had a mean streak determined to put an overconfident junior staffer or State Department employee with a Georgetown or Harvard PhD in their place.

“Myers didn’t fit with the Lugar political organization. He made one trip to Indiana, and that was enough for all of us,” wrote Helmke, a Fort Wayne native who teaches public policy at Trine University in Angola.

Helmke and Myers “often butted heads, but I always respected him,” Helmke wrote.

"He did not serve for the sake of self-promotion and to cash in on K Street or with the Beltway Bandits,” Helmke wrote, a reference to Capitol Hill lawmakers and staffers who become lobbyists and government contractors. “He served because public service is the right thing to do in America.”

Myers, who retired in 2012, Lugar's last year in a 36-year Senate career, is survived by his wife, Susan, their son and other family. Kenneth Myers III runs the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

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