OCTOBER 30, 2019

Honoring Gay Hart Gaines and Rush Limbaugh

For his entire life, Bill Buckley sought to preserve and buttress the foundations of our free society. To honor his achievement and inspire others, NRI’s Board of Trustees has created the William F. Buckley Jr. Prizes for Leadership in Political Thought and Leadership in Supporting Liberty. Past awardees include the DeVos family, the late Harold Simmons, Mike Grebe, Bruce and Suzie Kovner, Karen Buchwald Wright (Supporting Liberty) as well as Charles Krauthammer, Victor Davis Hanson, The Hon. George Shultz, Tom Wolfe, and Edwin J. Feulner (Political Thought). Notable public intellectuals, philanthropists, and leaders in the conservative movement attend to show support for our honorees, Bill Buckley’s enduring legacy, and the National Review mission.

At the 2019 gala, the Buckley Prize for Leadership in Political Thought was awarded to Rush Limbaugh in recognition of his exceptional success articulating and popularizing conservatism to millions of Americans through his acclaimed talk show. Bill Buckley was a master at creatively reaching people with his important ideas. Through Firing Line, Buckley was able to engage a large and diverse audience, discussing issues ranging from political philosophy and economics to faith and the arts. So too, Rush Limbaugh has captured the attention of millions of Americans, discussing the important issues of the day and disseminating the core principles that make this nation exceptional. Bill Buckley was a close friend and mentor of Rush Limbaugh. He held Mr. Limbaugh in high regard, saying, “Rush Limbaugh is by everyone’s reckoning a phenomenon, the most spectacular media success of recent years.” Rich Lowry, NR editor-in-chief and NRI trustee, introduced Mr. Limbaugh.

The Prize for Leadership in Supporting Liberty, which recognizes conservative philanthropy, was awarded to Gay Hart Gaines, honoring her countless contributions to the conservative movement—and in particular, her role in the establishment and early leadership of NRI. The concept of a non-profit Institute to complement the magazine was first conceived in her Palm Beach home in the presence of NRI fellow John O’Sullivan, former NR publisher Wick Allison, former NR president Dusty Rhodes, and Lisa B. Nelson (who later become NRI’s first executive director). After the Institute was established, Mrs. Gaines served as its first chairman from 1991 to 1993. In addition to her critical role in NRI’s founding, we recognize her longstanding and consequential contributions to patriotic causes, from GOPAC and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to the Society of the Four Arts, among many other conservative groups. NRI fellow Richard Brookhiser introduced Mrs. Gaines.



Robert F. Agostinelli
The Hon. Neal B. Freeman
Lisa B. Nelson


Robert F. Agostinelli Foundation
Ann and John Buser, Texas
Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation
Karen Buchwald Wright and Tom Rastin, Ohio


Harold B. Smith, Florida
Peter J. Travers, New Jersey  


Mrs. Roger Ailes/The Ailes Initiatives Foundation, Florida
Wendy and Dale Brott, Ohio
Harlan Crow, Texas
Suzie and Bruce Kovner, Florida
Debbie and Brian Murdock, Florida
Heather and James Higgins, New York
Thomas Peterffy, Florida
Barbara and Randall Smith, New York
Diane and Thomas W. Smith, Florida
Karen and Richard Spencer, California
Karan and Alec Taylor, New Jersey
Madelene and L. Stanton Towne, New York


The Bahnsen Group
Barbara and Hans Bergstrom, Florida
Janet and Brad Childers, Texas
Marion M. Cope, California
The William H. Donner Foundation
Susan and Clark Durant, Michigan
The Honorable Neal B. Freeman, Florida
Carolyn and Oliver Grace, Florida
iHeartMedia and Premiere Networks
Janet and William James, Florida
The JM Foundation
Ambassador and Mrs. Howard Leach, Florida
Media Research Center
Nancy Reeves Reardon – The Reeves Family Foundation, Massachusetts
Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III,
Rabbi Rob Thomas, Florida
Patti and Paul Verderese, Massachusetts
Penny and Bob Young, Florida


Sunny Aggarwal,
American Institute for Economic Research
American Philanthropic
Mike and Carolyn Asher, Colorado
The Bradley Foundation
Lucille and Peter Braun, New Jersey
Allison and Roberts W. Brokaw III, Delaware
Alice Cary and The Hon. Lyons Brown, Florida
Casa de Montecristo by Prime Cigar
Howard L. Chapman and Stephen L. Chapman, Indiana
Teresa and Jack Clem, Texas
Christopher C. Cole, Florida
Shay and Tom Cole, Utah
Susan and Christopher Cowie, Florida
Senator Julie and Charles Daniels, Oklahoma
Maureen Donnell, Florida
Lydia and Robert Forbes, Florida
Goldman Sachs
Julio Gonzalez, Engineered Tax Services, Florida
Michael W. Grebe, Wisconsin
Audrey Gruss, New York
The Hon. John Hillen,
Elizabeth and William Hoskins, Massachusetts
William M. Matthews, Florida
Lynn and Jack McAtee, Florida
Belinda and Jim Metzger, Connecticut
Marianne Moran, P.A., Florida
Robert Nederlander and Lynn Foster, New York
Elizabeth and Rod Odom, Florida
Pam and Gary Patsley, Texas
Laura and Ike Perlmutter, Florida
Valerie and Bruce Schooley, California
Amanda and Charles Schumacher, Schumacher Automotive Group, Florida
Alice and The Hon. Ken Starr, Texas
Diana Wister, Florida