The Big Thank You for Day 2: Clarence Ditlow

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Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Last week, I lost a friend and former colleague.  And if he hadn't shown up on the planet, I would have died thirty years ago.  

You might have, too.

You've probably never heard of him, but he lived an amazing life that made a huge difference to a lot of people - not just me.  His name is Clarence Ditlow, and in 1970, he went to work for Ralph Nader as one of two guys who specialized in auto safety.  He went on to led the Center for Auto Safety until he died last Thursday, way too young. 

Clarence worked with another great guy, Carl Nash, to make cars safer.  And because of the work they did, I survived a nasty auto accident. 

They worked on two safety standards that made my accident survivable, headrests and shoulder belts.  

And when I ran a red light (there was a monster truck blocking my view of the light)  in a Honda Civic hatchback and rammed a Jeep Cherokee,  

I wound up in the emergency room at Bethesda's Suburban Hospital.  And the ER doctor pointed out that my dress was ripped where my seat belt had kept me in place.  

The doctor said that without my shoulder belt and properly adjusted headrest I would have been an organ donor.  

Wow. 

Clarence and Carl were the ones who petitioned the government for shoulder belts and headrests - safety upgrades in the car I was driving.

Last week, when I heard that Clarence had died, I thought about the difference he made, not just in my life, but in the lives of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people all over the world.  

How many people didn't die when they were involved in auto accidents?  How many, like me,  were able to walk away without serious injuries? 

And I started to think about what I could be doing to make the world a better place.  Um, the answer wasn't writing a better blog.

And I have to thank Clarance for making me have this conversation with myself - and for keeping me alive long enough to write this blog post!  

Here is an article about some of Clarence Ditlow's achievements that appeared last week in the New York Times.

 

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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Wow, Pat, that is quite a story, and something to be VERY thankful for.

Jeff

Nov 16, 2016 12:35 PM #1
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jeff, thank you.  He was an amazing guy.  

Nov 16, 2016 12:44 PM #2
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Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Pat I have had one of those situations a hundred years ago, I was driving through an Intersection and this Truck ran a Red Light.... needless to say my car flew into a gas station and I was fine just really shook up... thanks to the seat belt you described... I had no idea.... may he RIP Endre

p.s. : what was that car "unsafe at any speed" that Ralph Nader took off I believe it was called the Corvair

Nov 16, 2016 02:34 PM #3
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Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

Amazing Pat and a wonderful tribute to a man I never heard of and yes, there obviously was a reason for you to survive...right?!

Nov 16, 2016 09:39 PM #4
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Patricia Feager
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Southlake, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Patricia Kennedy - I'm sorry to learn of the loss of your personal hero. I didn't know he was responsible for so many lives being saved until now. But I do understand. I feel the same way for the people in Office during the Carter administration. I was in a hotel fire, 5 months pregnant and had to escape through a window that needed to be shot out because it was tempered glass. My husband heard the fire alarm but I didn't know what it was. We had no other way to get out. I then wrote a letter to President Carter telling him my story and requested mandatory smoke alarms or fire detectors for every building. He personally replied he'd get on my request immediately and he did!  

Nov 16, 2016 11:47 PM #5
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Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
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Hi Pat - You're right - I hadn't heard of Clarence Ditlow, and that's a shame. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. Thanks for telling us about him.

Nov 17, 2016 03:00 AM #6
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

It's crazy to think that we ever drove cars without safety belts.  Thank goodness for his contribution to our public safety.

Nov 17, 2016 03:57 AM #7
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Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Patricia, glad you wrote this post, as I did not know Clarence Ditlow...but so glad he made cars safe for all of us.

Nov 17, 2016 04:49 AM #8
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
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Endre, I walked away from this accident with minor whiplash.  Amazing!

Nov 17, 2016 02:03 PM #9
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
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Ginny, it wasn't my time to go yet!  That was a good thing.

Nov 17, 2016 02:05 PM #10
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
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Patricia, I worked in the Carter Administration and it was a wonderful experience.  There are so many dedicated federal workers who could be earning a lot more in the private sector.  My income doubled when I left government.  

But it really is satisfying if you are lucky enough to have an opportunity to make a contribution - which I got to do.  

Nov 17, 2016 02:08 PM #11
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
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Dick, there are so many quiet heroes here in Washington, and Clarence was one of them - although he wasn't always that quiet!

Nov 17, 2016 02:09 PM #12
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
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Chris Ann, the New York Times piece talks about some of the issues he worked on.  But shoulder belts, head rests and air bags were huge.

Nov 17, 2016 02:11 PM #13
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
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Rebecca, he used his engineering and law degrees the best way possible.

Nov 17, 2016 02:12 PM #14
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Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Hi Pat -- You're right, Mr Ditlow's name should be better known.   When I was in junior high school I was with my Dad when a woman made a left turn lane right into the car.  The next day I wrote a story in class how wearing a seatbelt may have saved my life.    

Thanks for sharing his story and his name.   Rest in Peace, Clarence Ditlow.  

Nov 18, 2016 12:22 AM #15
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Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

It's sad that a person like this gets little or no recognition when they pass on, but the country mourns for singers, athletes, and actors. 

Good for you for introducing us to this fine man. 

Nov 18, 2016 03:24 AM #16
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
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Michael, he got a lot of recognition here in Washington, especially in the consumer protection community.  But outside of this area, he wasn't exactly a household name.  

Nov 18, 2016 02:21 PM #17
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Marte,  he did get interviewed quite frequently on national news stories involving the major auto safety issues, and there were a lot of stories about him in the business press.  He also had obituaries in all of the major national newspapers, including the New York Times.  But I agree that he deserves a lot of credit for saving a lot of lives.  

Nov 18, 2016 02:25 PM #18
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