An interviewer gets to know another person’s approach to the world quite well when the subject describes his life in more than three dozen hours, spread over 16 sessions. During visits to Admiral Frank Kelso’s Northern Virginia home in 2001–02, I developed great admiration for him, so I was particularly sorry to learn of his passing in June at age 79. Whenever I went to see him, he was invariably friendly and unpretentious.
He exhibited much of the character built during his years in Fayetteville, Tennessee, in the 1930s and 1940s. As the admiral put it in his oral history, “We believe that an officer and gentleman does not lie, cheat, or steal. You didn’t have to teach me that when I got to the Naval Academy. It was a pretty clear lesson throughout my young life that this was the way you are supposed to live.” What several people have said about him could be summarized in one sentence: “Frank Kelso wouldn’t know how to tell a lie.”