Former US Senator Charles Percy, who died Saturday, played a key role in starting the 35-year tradition of the Monitor-hosted breakfasts for reporters.
Former US Senator Charles Percy had a long and accomplished career in business and public service. Mr. Percy, who died Saturday, also played a key role in starting the 45-year tradition of the Monitor-hosted breakfasts for reporters.
While he was running for the Senate from Illinois in 1966, Mr. Percy had dinner with the Monitor’s then assistant Washington bureau chief, Godfrey Sperling, Jr. It was at that dinner, the nascent idea of the Monitor breakfast was born.
"Chuck" Percy told "Budge" Sperling he would be interested in meeting with Washington reporters who were covering his Senate campaign. So Mr. Sperling arranged a lunch for 10 reporters in the President’s Room of the National Press Club around the corner from the White House on February 8, 1966. [Editor's note: The original version of this paragraph, as well as the preceding one, incorrectly described the point in Percy's political career when the idea emerged for him to meet with a group of reporters.]
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The Monitor gatherings have continued ever since.
Percy and Sperling first met when Sperling was assigned to the paper’s Chicago bureau and wrote a story, “Mr. Percy Goes to Washington,” about Percy’s role advising President Dwight Eisenhower on trade issues.