Rising to the most senior ranks of Congressional staff, Ted was a humble lion of the U.S. House of Representatives for many years. While he will be long remembered for his steely resolve in the halls of Congress, his loved ones encapsulate the fullness of his life in three words: faith, family and friends.
Ted was born in Rochester, New York in 1957 to Thomas and Virginia (predeceased) VanDerMeid. From a young age, faith was the lodestar of his life. He loved the great hymns of the faith, good preaching, and inspiring worship. Ted was a longtime member, and served in leadership positions, at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland. Most recently he belonged to Restoration Anglican Church in Arlington, Virginia. He leaves behind a wonderful legacy of love that is the sign of a true man of God.
Ted attended Brighton High School in Rochester, New York, and then North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. Following his graduation from North Park with a B.A. in Political Science, Ted returned to New York and earned a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law in 1983. His legal training would hone his already stellar analytical skills and knack for negotiation.
Ted moved immediately to Washington after graduating from law school, accepting a position as a budget associate for U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Martin. After working for Rep. Martin, Ted became legislative director for U.S. Congresswoman Jan Meyers of Kansas. From there, he landed a position as the general counsel for House Republican Leader Robert Michel of Illinois. During his time with the Leader, he earned an MPA from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. He advised the Leader on a myriad of issues, from campaign reform to financial services, to telecommunications. He left the Leader’s office after five years to become staff director and chief counsel for the House Ethics Committee under the chairmanship of Rep. Nancy Johnson of Connecticut. Over three years, he led the committee through a busy time, reforming key rules, managing financial disclosures and overseeing investigations with grace and impartiality.
After his time with the Ethics Committee, Ted became counsel and director of floor operations for the Speaker of the House. Ted served as the Speaker’s supervising liaison to the full panoply of House Officers, including the Clerk, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Chaplain, and the Chief Administrative Officer. He was a pragmatic advisor to the Speaker, deploying his level head, ready insight and persuasive power to solve any problem, big or small. It is a testament to Ted’s radiant warmth that he built new and lasting friendships while performing the difficult interpersonal responsibilities of this job.
Perhaps the clearest physical representation of Ted’s professional legacy is the underground facility through which thousands of tourists enter the U.S. Capitol on a daily basis, known as the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). The CVC was conceived in the wake of a tragic Capitol shooting in 1998 and the terror attacks of 2001. One of its principal purposes was safeguarding the well being of Capitol visitors. While many individuals had a hand in bringing the CVC to fruition, Ted’s talent for forging consensus and inherent devotion to the well-being of others played an integral role in ensuring that the facility was built as securely as possible. He also worked closely with the Architect of the Capitol and others to make certain the facility was erected in the same spirit of democracy that animates the rest of the Capitol Complex.
Upon leaving the Speaker’s Office, Ted worked for McKenna, Long and Aldridge, LLP before joining the Pew Charitable Trusts as Director of Government Relations, overseeing lobbying compliance in the U.S. and abroad. While at Pew, he won the ACE Award denoting outstanding staff achievement and made lasting friendships with colleagues across the institution.
Ted served on numerous boards and commissions over the course of his career, including the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, North Park University, the Board of Directors of Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA), and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. During the 105th Congress (from 1997-1999) Ted was a Fellow of the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership.
Ted was an avid horticulturalist and nature lover. As at home as he was amid Washington’s white stone and marble, he preferred the earthen beauty of organic architecture and North America’s natural landscapes. He loved to garden at his bungalow-style home in Arlington Virginia and his historic cobblestone house in upstate New York. He was also an accomplished hiker. Over the course of his life, he climbed the hills of Maine where he often spent his summers, and ambled through the rich terrains of our National Parks.
Ted never sought to be the center of attention, but to so many people, he was the center of gravity, providing support and balance during times of need. Although Ted remained single all of his life, he was devoted to his family. He traveled all over the country and the world to be with them, meeting them for Cubs games, graduations and birthdays, and spending holidays in Mali, Mozambique, Peru and Rome. He was referred to as Uncle Ted by not only his nieces and nephews, but also by the children of his friends. He was a “dog whisperer,” making new canine friends wherever he went. He rescued Bijoux, a Bichon/Shih Tzu mix and gave him the five best years of his life. In addition to travelling everywhere with Ted, Bijoux often indulged in gourmet cuisine.
Ted is survived by his sister, Ginny Newberg (Richard predeceased), brothers, Tom (Mary) and Tim (Elaine) VanDerMeid, and father, Thomas VanDerMeid. His adored and cherished nieces and nephews include: Jeremy, Jami, Jonathan, Justin, Amy, and Matt VanDerMeid and Alyssa and Thomas Newberg.
A memorial service and celebration of Ted’s life will be held on April 7th at 2pm at Little Falls Presbyterian Church, 6025 Little Falls Road, Arlington, VA 22207.
Gifts in honor of Ted’s memory should be clearly marked “Ted Van Der Meid Memorial” and may be sent to: Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA), North Park University, and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN).