Excerpts from a letter to Rabbi Michael Lerner
by Susan R. Friedes
We’ve never met, yet you played an indirect role in my life through a meeting you may not even remember. I’m the daughter of the FBI agent who questioned you after you were involved in a student protest at the University of Washington many years ago. Until recently I didn’t know your name; in the past month, it has come to my attention in three distinct contexts. Allow me to explain.
While my brother and I were visiting a childhood friend in Rancho Santa Fe, she reminded us of the time my father quit the Bureau suddenly and unexpectedly. I still remember Dad telling me about it afterwards—how he had been assigned one day to question a young man who had been detained during a protest at the UW while they drove from campus down to the federal building in Seattle. He described the young man as intelligent and well-educated, respectful, articulate and sincere. They discussed the Vietnam war, which Dad opposed, the Nixon government, and the student protest movement. During their conversation, my dad began to question not only what his passenger was doing in that car, but what he was doing there as well. To this day I can still hear the emotion in his voice when he would recall that encounter, saying “That young man could have been my son.”
My dad, Dean Conrad Rolston, handed in his retirement from the FBI within a week of that meeting.
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