Clancy Thomas L., Jr. Age 66 "I'm a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more I have." Tom Clancy, the no-nonsense author who built a four-decade-and-counting empire of best-selling techno-thrillers, blockbuster Hollywood movies, syndicated television shows and video games, passed away this Tuesday in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. He was 66 years old. Always proud of his humble roots and Jesuit education, Thomas Leo Clancy "never met a book he didn't like." While his profound nearsightedness may have certainly prevented a career in the US Navy, it most likely fueled his quiet determination to become a writer. In the early 1980s while working as an insurance adjuster, Clancy crafted his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, 10 meticulous pages at a time every night at his kitchen table in Calvert County, Maryland. A father of four and married to his high school sweetheart, Wanda Thomas, Clancy nurtured his boyhood fascination for all things military into an adult obsession. In 1984, when he sold the novel to the Naval Institute Press for $5,000, The Hunt for Red October quickly became a Washington insider must-read - its success sealed when President Ronald Reagan described the book to reporters as "the perfect yarn." Clancy was soon catapulted to the international stage, consistently delivering one political thriller after another, firmly establishing himself on The New York Times best-seller list 17 times. Clancy was only one of three authors to have sold two million copies on a first printing in the 1990s. Patriot Games, The Sum of All Fears and Clear and Present Danger became the foundation for a wildly successful franchise of more than 100 million books, creating legions of die-hard fans. Clancy's obsessive attention to detail and uncanny ability to foreshadow real-life events was never more evident than in his 1994 book, Debt of Honor. Soon after the September 11 attacks, Clancy was tapped by President George W. Bush to be a part of an interdisciplinary think tank predicting the next move of the Bin Laden terrorists. "I've made up stuff that's turned out to be real, that's the spooky part." said Clancy. As Clancy's success grew, so too did his philanthropic endeavors. After meeting Kyle Haydock, an eight-year-old fan who ultimately succumbed to cancer, Clancy established a Foundation to provide families of terminally-ill children with an online health information network. Visibly moved by Kyle's story, Clancy always referred to him as "My little buddy." Throughout his lifetime, Clancy supported the college education of many young people who crossed his path, never wanting to be recognized for his generous acts. As part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles as well as the organization's Vice Chairman of Community Activities and Public Affairs, Clancy could often be seen at his box in Camden Yards, enjoying a game. However, his place as the first and only American-born honorary Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London was perhaps one of his proudest accomplishments in life. In the late 1990s, a then-divorced Clancy was introduced to freelance television reporter Alexandra Maria Llewellyn by retired General Colin Powell. A three-hour lunch quickly ensued and their intense love turned to marriage in 1999. Their bond was impenetrable - never spending a single night apart from each other over the course of their entire marriage. As CEO and Creative Director of the luxury handbag line, LOVEALEX, Alex Clancy dedicates a significant portion of her profits to educating at-risk youth. Clancy's next book, Command Authority, is due out in December.
Published in Washington Times from Oct. 7 to Nov. 8, 2013