David Lauderdale

Letter criticizing president rocking the boat for former islander

Lou Pritchett says he's just an old soap salesman, so who in the world would listen to him?

He's finding out. An open letter he sent to the president and the New York Times more than two years ago has gone viral on the Internet, with more than 10 million reads.

It's called "You Scare Me," and it minces no words in criticizing President Barack Obama politically and personally. The letter was forwarded to me this week from a reader in Beaufort who forwards a lot of pearls from the Internet jet stream and dares us to print it.

I met Pritchett during the decade he and his wife, Barbara, lived on Hilton Head Island. He retired to Bear Island Road and picked up a golf club for the first time. But he couldn't sit still. He wrote a book called "Stop Paddling & Start Rocking the Boat." And he became a high-energy corporate convention speaker commanding $15,000 to $20,000 per speech.

It's true, he was at one time a soap salesman. But that's not the whole story.

He was born in the Great Depression, living "about a mile below today's so-called poverty level." His only brother was killed in the D-Day landings.

"Exactly one year later, my father died and left me, my mother and my sister to go it alone," Pritchett now tells crowds at tea party rallies. "And alone we went. My mother went to work at a department store, my sister dropped out of school and joined her, and I went to work shining shoes on the streets of Memphis for a dime a shine. Government assistance was not available, and if it were, I am confident my mother would have refused it because she never wanted the government involved in our lives."

Pritchett went to the school of hard knocks and rose from soap salesman to vice president of Procter & Gamble. He was the "change agent" who engineered with Sam Walton a partnering relationship between P&G and its top U.S. customer, Walmart. The concept of customer/supplier partnering rocked the business world's boat in 1987.

Now his letter is rocking the boat. Pritchett told me this week he didn't hear from the president, but he sent his letter to a few friends, and overnight received five emails from Israel. He has since received countless emails.

Now just short of his 80th birthday and off the speaking tour, Pritchett has retired once again to Ponte Vedra, Fla. He has a new book out, "What the Internet Can't Teach You: Ageless Information for the Information Age."

I asked what he'd do about our economy. He said elect a new president to remove a "huge umbrella of uncertainty" that has caused businesses to hunker down; put a moratorium on any payroll deduction; and reduce corporate taxes and government regulations severely.

He said all people want from their government is opportunity.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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  3. Video of Lou Pritchett discussing the letter on Fox