Fred Baron has passed away.
At 61, and seeming much younger than that, it was way too soon for the previous sentence to have been written about him. But cancer is a terrible thing. My own mother was only 59 when she lost her own battle on that front, cheated out of the final, and best, quarter of her life. Too many families face the same situation. Now the Baron family faces it as well.
At the heart of it, crammed into those 61 years, Fred Baron was a man whose loyalties were beyond question, and who could be counted on to fight hard and come to the rescue.
Some might agree with those who would try to sell you on the concept of “greedy trial lawyers,” but during his professional career Fred was a trial lawyer who tried his damnest to make sure people who were hurt, or the families of those who were killed, had their say. He gave them a chance at justice, fighting against those with considerably more resources to defend themselves. And in the background was his fundamental belief that this should never happen again, to anybody.
Some might think that right wing candidates backed by powerful Wall Street interests should always win, and perhaps shouldn’t even be credibly challenged. But Fred didn’t agree, and he worked hard to ensure that other voices were credibly heard, above the intimidating rumble of the mighty unanswered media buys of the powerful opposition completely dominating Texas politics at the time.
Even the timing of his decision to go “all in” at the political poker table was beyond assail. He did so only after he had completed his professional mission and retired from his law firm. This was a man who had no remaining vested interest, other than whatever destination his principles led him.
Fred Baron was a force of nature, and a man of deep conviction, principle, and courage, who was unassailable even while being assaulted, and unblinking even while under attack.
He followed his beliefs, and pursued his values, and treated it all like an action verb. He invested his efforts and his resources like few dare, or bother.
Unlike so many, he declined to allow fear to dictate his actions, realizing that it’s among the worst of motivating factors. He decided that if nobody else would step onto the field of battle and defend that which he believed in, he would do so alone – with the full confidence that once results were seen, others would follow. He was right.
And most importantly, when he fought back, he was fighting for others, not himself. His own rights were already protected. His own needs were already long-since met. His own place in the world was solid. Being Anglo, and male, and straight, and American, and wealthy, generally makes things pretty secure.
No, there was really nothing remaining to fight for if you’re Fred Baron, unless you decide that others are worth fighting for. So he fought for folks he didn’t even know – people who conservatives in unchallenged power were insisting live a life that wasn’t even imaginable, understandable, or accessible – people not even in possession of the bootstraps the opposition was insisting they pull themselves up by.
Fred Baron deliberately picked fights against the most powerful among us, on behalf of the rest of us.
Agree or disagree with his point of view, or where his personal values and loyalties led him – isn’t that the kind of person we all wish we were?
In lieu of flowers, leave it all out on the field, be fearless, and fight like hell.