Archive for October, 2009

My former boss passed away last week.  He was a U.S. Senator and a two time Oklahoma Governor.  He was a Governor, Senator, then Governor last.  We are debating how to address him — Senator a  higher office or Governor the last office?  Thanks!
— Just Wondering in Oklahoma

Dear JWIO:
Think about it in the most formal way: would a former governor be called Governor (name) in the presence of the current governor? He would not.
Former governors are not ‘officially’ addressed as
Governor (name) because there is only one Governor of a state at a time … and doing do is not respectful of the state’s current governor.
This holds true for other offices where there is a single office holder … The Speaker of the House … the Mayor of a City …. the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
WHEREAS there are many senators, admirals, judges, ambassadors at a time … so calling a former office holder by one of those titles is not in conflict with a current office holder.
So most correctly he is addressed by his highest, no-exclusive honorific:
Senator (Name) a man who served as Governor twice …
When Dwight Eisenhower left the presidency he went back to General Eisenhower.
That’s also what Albert Gore has done … he’s back to Senator Gore, because he can’t be Mr. Vice President.
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush don’t have a title to go back to so they are both“Mr.”
… and Colin Powell is not longer Mr. Secretary or Secretary Powell … He’s back to General Powell.

— Robert Hickey

Yea!  I knew it!  In Oklahoma, every person who is a former governor is called governor by those who address him in every social setting I am attending.  Do the Okie’s just not know any better?  They are not doing this in front of current Governor, just in the addressing of any former governor.  So, if I see former governor what do I call him?

It’s not just the Okie’s … it just people repeating what they hear the newscasters say.
If you had been President of some local club … there would doubtlessly be someone who would continue to call you President (Your Last Name) just to flatter you. Not technically or traditionally correct … but it happens.
I have seen hosts of the Sunday morning programs interview Newt Gingrich and call him Speaker Gingrich … it’s not right, but when I observed, he did not correct them on air.
I see people doing lots of ill advised things … that they do them — doesn’t make them right. They are either lazy or don’t know any better.
If you meet a former governor and call him “Mr.” it won’t offend him … because he will know what’s right.
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

Read Full Post »

We have been struggling with setting up consistent prefixes and suffixes in our database for our military grads. For retired service folks should we spell our “retired” or use the “Ret.” abbreviation?  Is there a comma after the branch of service or is it “USN Ret.”
— Development Office, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

Dear Fund Raiser:
For official correspondence DOD guides use the comma … and either “Ret.” or “Retired” is acceptable.
Brigadier General Arthur Portnoy, USA, Retired
Brigadier General
Arthur Portnoy, USA, Ret.
You may want to consider for your database using the service-specific abbreviations for the ranks:
Arthur Portnoy, USA, Ret.
Arthur Portnoy, USA, Retired
DOD people like the service-specific abbreviations because they can tell that a BGis in the Army, and a BGen is a Marine.  All those
service-specific abbreviations …USA, USN, USMC, USAF and CG …. are in my book.
Note that the branch of service and retired status may not be necessary for what you are doing: On social correspondence (personal letters, invitations or cards) their status … active duty, retired … or branch of service … is not pertinent … and is not suggested in DOD guides.
When “retired” IS PERTINENT is in military environments where “active duty” personnel are present.
Say a retired officer is working at a defense contractor. It would be potentially confusing to present themselves as a “General” when in fact they are not longer a commanding officer and may be dealing with an active duty “General”.   That’s the logic, and in that case “Retired’ is always noted.
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

Read Full Post »

Why do we address Members of the U.S. House of Representatives on the greeting line as Dear Mr./Ms. (Name) instead of Dear Representative (Name)? Are both ways appropriate?
— Working at Connecticut Avenue and K Street

On Capital Hill members of the House address one another asMr./Mrs./Ms./Dr./etc. Traditionally members of the House use whatever their own honorific is.
All around the world lower houses of governments routinely follow the British model: e.g. members of the House of Commons in Parliament London, Ottawa, and everywhere else are all simply
The media uses “Representative Williams” or sometimes “Congressman Williams” as shorthand to refer to The Honorable Thomas Williams, Member of the United States House of Representatives from the 3rd District of New Mexico which would be the formal form of address — and is a mouthful!
Sometimes off Capital Hill you will hear “Representative Williams” or “Congresswoman Williams” to clarify to the listener who is being introduced … Those members of the House don’t like to their rank to be missed! Members of the Senate with their Senator Brown have it a bit easier!

– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

Read Full Post »

How do I address the envelope and what is the proper salutation and closing on the thank you note to a former vice president of the United States?
— About to write a letter

While in office they are addressed as Mr. Vice President and they don’t continue that when they leave office.
Envelope and address block on the letter:
The Honorable (Full Name)

The salutation would depend on what their former honorific was. Which one are you addressing?
* Dick Cheney is Dear Mr. Cheney:
* Walter Mondale and Albert Gore both went back to their highest former honorific … Dear Senator (surname): … which is used by former Senators.
For the closing use the very formal: Very Respectfully,
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

Read Full Post »

I volunteer for our local Habitat for Humanity office.  One of my tasks is writing thank you letters.  I have a donation to acknowledge and all I have for names is what’s on the check itself:
Can you advise me on the correct form of address and the correct salutation?  It’s probably a small thing but I’d like to get it right.  Thanks so much!
— Wanda, Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, Port Lucie, Florida

Dear Wanda:
When a donor gets a letter of thanks … getting their name right is not a small thing … it is HUGE!
Looks like to me it is a married couple … using the same last name … he is retired United States Army Chief Warrant Officer.  They’ve used the service-specific abbrevations on the check CW2 — so I would use it in the reply.
1) If you want to use both full names and be more official:
CW2 Steven W. Armstrong, USA, Ret.
and Lesley M. Armstrong

2) If you want to use the “Mr. and Mrs.” format … is a social form …. write ….
CW2 and Mrs. Steven W. Armstrong

Either is O.K.
Then in the salutation write:
Dear Chief Warrant Officer and Mrs. Armstrong:
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

Read Full Post »

How does one address the Clerk of a Circuit Court (an elected position)?

Dear Wanda:
If the clerk was elected to office then he or she is The Honorable. Address the letter:
The Honorable (full name)
Clerk of the Circuit Court
(Name of Court, e.g., 22nd Judicial Circuit of (State))

Open the letter with the salutation:
Dear Mr./Ms. (Surname):

– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

Read Full Post »

It is not unusual for the various state national guards to give honorary promotions to worthy officers upon retirement.  These promotions are not federally recognized and do not entitle the recipient to increased pay in retirement.  How should one address anofficer who received an honorary promotion upon retirement?
— BG Charles K. Hendershott

Dear General Hendershott:
If the promotion is honorary, not federally recognized, and does not entitle one to benefits … perhaps it something granted informally and internally?  Protocol officers I spoke to (two at the Pentagon and two at bases) suggest use of such a honorary rank in address be limited to verbal use within the granting organization.
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

Read Full Post »