WASHINGTON, D.C. – The double impact of the late Governor Brendan Byrne being awarded the first New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s award named in honor of Gov. Tom Kean, Sr., and the latter’s gracious acknowledgement of it left the NJ insider crowd on its feet, some of them in tears, in the ballroom of the Marriot.
“Brendan Byrne was wonderful in so many ways,” said Kean, who attended his first Chamber of Commerce Walk to Washington 50 years ago today. “I was privileged to call him my friend for many, many years.”
Summoned to the dais by Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken, Governor Byrne attended 51 chamber train events, including 50 straight tours of duty.
Kean said he was honored to have the late Democratic Governor’s son and widow present to receive the award.
Ruthi Byrne and Tom Byrne made their way to the podium.
“New Jersey was privileged to him as its governor and I was privileged to have him as my husband,” said Ruthi Byrne.
Tom Byrne said he remembers when his father held the dubious honor – while governor – of being known by 96% of the public while four percent said he was doing a good job.
“In a way, my father’s come full circle,” said the younger Byrne.