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Arnold Forde


1936 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Arnold Forde Obituary
July 1, 2018 Arnold Forde, a California political consultant who ushered in the modern era of professional political management and data driven voter communications died at his home in Laguna Beach, California on Sunday, July 1st. He was 82. His wife Marie confirmed his death due to complications from pneumonia following a lengthy illness. Born and raised in Chicago, Mr. Forde came to California in the early 1950's, following his discharge from the United States Navy. He studied economics at Long Beach State University and married his wife Marie, a school teacher, in 1956. Mr. Forde landed a job as fundraiser for the Orange County Democratic Party during an era when Democrats in the County were few and far between. His persistence and success attracted the attention of rancher and Democratic Party leader Richard O'Neill who became his friend and business partner. Mr. Forde soon became a fixture of state Democratic politics advising former US Senator Alan Cranston and managing the campaigns of state and local candidates. He was among the very first to employ public opinion research in local political campaigns, hiring a Long Beach State marketing professor to conduct focus groups and polls in an Orange County supervisor's race because professional political polling firms did not yet exist. Mr. Forde soon joined forces with Bill Butcher, a rival Orange County political consultant. Butcher Forde Consulting became known for its no-holds- barred campaigns and its sophisticated use of voter data and direct mail to win elections. In 1976 Butcher Forde Consulting hired Stu Mollrich, a 24-year-old political operative. He introduced them to a friend named Howard Jarvis who had qualified an initiative to reduce property taxes- later known as Proposition 13. Outmatched and underfunded, Arnold Forde and his associates came up with a strategy which was unique for its time. They matched the voter rolls to the property tax records and sent property owners mailings asking them to contribute a small percentage of their future property tax savings to the Yes on Proposition 13 campaign. They raised enough money to run television ads and pass Proposition 13 by a margin of more than 2 to 1. The national attention given to this "Taxpayers Revolt" helped pave the way for the election of Proposition 13 supporter Ronald Reagan as president of United States. Following the success of Proposition 13, Mr. Jarvis and Butcher-Forde created the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, which just celebrated its 40th Anniversary as California's most successful grass roots taxpayer's advocacy organization. Mr. Forde then formed BFC Direct Marketing which became the largest cause oriented direct marketing firm on the West Coast. They teamed with former Congressman James Roosevelt in 1982 to Launch the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare which became second largest senior citizens organization in the United States and has been in existence for 36 years. Following the sale of BFC Direct Marketing in 1985 to Miles Ruben, an investor and former national finance chairman for the George McGovern presidential campaign, Mr. Forde partnered with Stu Mollrich to form the political consulting firm of Forde and Mollrich. During their 30+ years in business Forde and Mollrich played an integral role in the campaigns of California Governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 1998, Forde and Mollrich joined forces with former California Assembly Democratic Leader Mike Roos and actor/director Rob Reiner to pass Proposition 10. This landmark initiative established the First Five program in California and has raised more than $10 billion to fund early childhood development programs. Beginning in 2002, Forde and Mollrich worked for the City of Irvine to create and implement the development strategy and master plan for the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Their strategy led to the development of the Orange County Great Park and the surrounding Great Park Neighborhoods which is widely regarded as the nation's most successful military base reuse. Mr. Forde applied his full throttle, risk-taking approach to another great passion in his life - collecting cutting edge contemporary art. He was one of the earliest collectors of a number now famous contemporary artists including Chris Burden, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, John Baldessari, Cindy Sherman and Richard Serra. His collection was featured in a 2014 New York Times Article "Where Shall We Park the Art?" The article began "Arnold and Marie Forde have an interesting way of thinking about furnishings. The first thing you notice when you walk into their home in Laguna Beach, Calif. isn't a table or a sofa, or even the stunning ocean view. It's a 5,000 lb. 1954 International T6 crawler(tractor) paired with a 1974 Lotus Europa in the living room. This is a work of art created by conceptual artist Chris Burden, named, "Yin and Yang." Mr. Forde is survived by his wife Marie and sons, Kent and Kirk. A memorial will be held at 2pm, July 28, 2018 at Laguna Presbyterian Church located at 415 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. In lieu of sending flowers, please make a donation to World Vision. Phone donations to 253.815.2296 (Kathy Cooper) between 6:00 am and 2:15 pm. You can leave a message for a call-back by the following business day. Mail donations to: World Vision Attn: Kathy Cooper Incoming Mail MS 110 PO Box 9716 Federal Way, WA 98063-9716. Please include a note, or a mention of Arnold in the check memo line.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from July 14 to July 15, 2018
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