He really changed my life by encouraging me to come down here to Washington and not stay in New York with my mother. I wasn’t really aware until later of what had happened. I just thought this was a good idea to go down here and work on the [1956 Adlai Stevenson] campaign. My father had died the year before. My mother I think wanted her daughters with her and if they stayed with her for the rest of their lives that would have been alright too. And I think Bob intuited this. I think Bob understood the dynamic more than I and encouraged me and helped me move. And he did it with great subtlety. Getting someone out of the house is not subtle, but he did it. And I did not realize at that point that I would be staying down in Washington. I have no doubt he did know and understood what he was doing.

He was an amazing man and a very good friend.

We were overseas when he died. My husband was in the Foreign Service. Yeah, we were in Nigeria. I guess I did know because he didn’t answer any of the year-end cards. I hadn’t heard from him and I guess I wrote to Ruth Greene. She told me, “Oh by the way he died on Thanksgiving.” It didn’t really hit me for another eight or nine years. Sometime later, when we came back to the States, it would have been probably the mid-‘80s, somehow his name, Bob’s name, came up in conversation and suddenly tears were pouring down my eyes. I just couldn’t stop. We were sitting at the dinner table at someone’s home and I could not stop the tears. I realized I had just never grieved his death. It just all came back to me. I just couldn’t stop the flow. It was lost grief.

Meryl Fialka Steigman, today is executive director of the Bulgarian-American Society in Washington D.C.