PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As a billionaire heir to the Mellon fortune, he could have lived a life of leisure.
But Richard Mellon Scaife marshaled his wealth and influence to further conservative causes nationally and make a lasting imprint on his own backyard.
“Imprint on the region is enormous,” said friend Jim Roddey. “In the arts, education and historic preservation.”
A preservationist, he saved the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Rail Station from demolition and transformed the rest of Station Square.
A supporter of the arts, he funded the Sara Scaife galleries at the Carnegie – commissioning Andy Warhol to paint a portrait of Andrew Carnegie.
“His great love was the newspapers,” said Roddey. “He enjoyed being a newspaper publisher I think more than anything that he ever did.”
But it was as the publisher of the Tribune-Review and other local newspapers, that Scaife made his views known, while privately bankrolling conservative foundations and candidates in favor of limited government.
“Government needs to be kept under control,” Scaife once said, “to serve people and not have people serve it.”
His activities prompted then First Lady Hillary Clinton to accuse him of this:
“This vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband ever since the day that he announced for president.”
Scaife later endorsed Hillary in the democratic primary for president and hired liberal democrat columnist Joe Mistick, who notes Scaife as a true libertarian. Scaife wanted limited government in personal freedoms.
“Editorialized in favor of same-sex marriage years ago, in legalization of marijuana years ago and that he is a great contributor to — one of the largest contributors at least in our region, to Planned Parenthood,” said Mistick.
Scaife has left his fortune to keep his papers, foundations and causes afloat.
And so Scaife’s impact will be felt in Pittsburgh long after his passing. A measure not only of his wealth, but of his commitment to those things in which he believed.