A Tribute to Beth Daley

Most people who know POGO know Beth Daley. For ten years, Beth played a vital role in all of our work. Beth was POGO’s first Director of Development and Director of Communication, helping to build a small non-profit into the institution it is today. She completed her career as the Director of Investigations. Everything that went out the door had her imprint.

Beth died in her sleep after a seven-year battle with breast cancer on Sunday, August 22, 2010. She is survived by her seven-and-a-half year old twin girls Ginger and Traci, of whom she was so proud, her husband Steve Holmer, mother and father Steve and Georganna Daley, sister and brother-in-law Gwen Daley and Brett Best, mother-in-law Terry Holmer, and sisters-in-law Chris Cofield and Kathy Holmer.

Beth’s soul will always be central to POGO. You can find more information about her work and impact here.

If you have any stories or memories you would like to share about Beth, we would encourage you to leave them in the comments below.

A celebration of Beth’s life will take place on Saturday September 4th at 122 Maryland Ave NE, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions to honor Beth’s life and work be made to the Project On Government Oversight. You may make a contribution in Beth’s honor here.

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77 Responses to “A Tribute to Beth Daley”

  1. Mandy Smithbergeron 24 Aug 2010 at 7:53 am

    I think what I will remember most about Beth is her capacity for understanding. On a larger, more abstract level it meant that she could instinctively identify the depth of a problem uncovered by our investigations. But on a more personal level, it meant that she never forgot a whistleblower who came to her, and that she always had time for coffee with a colleague. I always admired her heart and passion for what most would consider to be too complex to pursue. It seemed that Beth could never be intimidated, and it meant that the public had the most stalwart champion they could ask for.

  2. John Pruetton 24 Aug 2010 at 10:30 am

    Beth introduced me to the world of government oversight and showed me how to be an investigator. Through her, I developed an interest in energy policy and learned all about federal oil and gas leasing. I’ll always remember her warm smile, boundless optimism, and dedication to those for whom she fought so fiercely. She was an inspiration and source of joy and will truly be missed. My thoughts go out to her family.

  3. Janet S.on 24 Aug 2010 at 2:25 pm

    She sounded like a wonderful woman and member of POGO. And although I only met her briefly one time, I could see how much she affected all of those who knew her.

  4. Mary Elizabeth Laneon 24 Aug 2010 at 6:11 pm

    It was with great sadness that I read of Beth’s death. I had reconnected with her over the last couple of years via Face Book and really enjoyed her as an adult… We grew up across the street from each other and hadn’t been in touch for years. I was not surprised to see what a dedicated and tenacious person she was at POGO. She was the easiest kid to baby sit. Never had to tell her to do her homework or practice her music, she just did it. And it obviously, paid off in so many ways. She always had the same sense of humor and the same great smile… I will miss her too.

  5. Steven Loucelon 24 Aug 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I meet Beth as an Intern back in the Spring of 2006 when I interned for POGO. My heart sank after learning of the news. My thoughts and prayers go out to her friends and family. I wish I was in D.C. , I miss the POGO family.

  6. Eric Milleron 25 Aug 2010 at 3:55 am

    Thanks for doing this. This is so sad. Still having a hard time believing she’s gone. She made the world a better place. I know Beth was family at POGO, so my wife Susan and I send our condolences. She did a lot for POGO and I always admired her commitment to doing the right thing. She was a fighter, not only for her own life, but for good government.

  7. Nicole Harkinon 25 Aug 2010 at 8:34 am

    The photo below reminds me of the trip Lisa Baumgartner Bonds and Beth took to Italy, where Beth’s bag got stolen…
    They hiked between those cities in Italy where you have to do that to see the different cities…I even have images in my head about how it looked there. Isn’t that nice.

    Beth and Lisa

  8. Laura Steeleon 25 Aug 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I met Beth in 1996 when my then boyfriend Brian and I moved into the basement apt below the group house that Beth lived in. That was a rowdy and fun bunch, but Beth bonded with us (especially me) from the beginning and we became close friends, hanging out on their deck, drinking beer and having great conversations. Beth quickly got to know my group of friends from college who had all migrated to DC and joined on us on regular “girls” trips to the beach- Ocean City, Rehoboth- Brian had to stay home, but my friend Geoff could join us as he counted as one of the girls.

    At one point during the 5 years we lived below Beth, she announced she’d met a new guy she really liked, Steve Holmer. Brian said “I know Steve Holmer!” He has canvassed at Greenpeace with Steve, along with Mike Johnson who had been a close HS friend of Brian’s that he’d lost touch with. Brian was able to reconnect with a whole group of people he’d lost touch with like Mike, Emily Schoenbaum, Kolev and other Greenpeace people so that was really fun for us and for me to be able to hear stories about Brian from back then and our social group expanded.

    Beth introduced me to camping in the one and only camping trip I’ve been on. We went to a great waterfall campsite.

    I remember going to a Renaissance festival with Beth, Maripage a few other roommates and they had actual renaissance stuff to wear. At the end of the night, they were all dancing around a fire with the players and Beth and Maripage fit right in and I was so jealous of their flowing skirts as they danced and drank mead while I sat in my jeans. I ended up buying an outfit myself and asking Brian what he would think if I ran away with the renaissance troupe. He said “I think you’ll be back in 3 weeks with a bunch of clothes you’ll never wear and a rash.” So right, I’m sure! But I have gotten a lot of use out of that outfit for Halloween parties, many of which I attended with Beth. We would party hop around Mt. Pleasant and Halloween became a favorite holiday.

    Beth was the first person we told when Brian and I got engaged. Of course, because we were so close, she had a way of walking into our house without knocking (ala Kramer on Seinfeld) and interrupted our celebration, but we were happy to share the news with her first. Brian and I got married in 2000 and Beth and Steve did the same in 2001 so there was lots of fun lead up to both of those things as we led somewhat parallel lives.

    I remember Beth being pregnant with the girls and we would go get pedicures and eat lunch at Dos Gringos and how much they struggled (in the way any parent does) in the beginning with managing twins. Brian and I loved to go over and babysit and give them a chance to go out and of course it jump started our own nesting urge.

    I vividly remember her phone call to me the day after Christmas when the girls turned one. She had gotten the news that she had breast cancer. I was in Richmond and not close enough to rush over, which was so difficult. I went with her to buy a wig and she opted to let the hairdresser shave her head so she didn’t have to deal with the stress of her hair actually falling out in handfuls. It was a beautiful wig, but in the end, she hated the itchiness of it and rarely wore it.

    I had my son Aiden a year and half after the girls were born and the kids grew up together for almost 2 years before we moved to Nantucket. Cancer was being managed at that point and we all spent a lot of time together as families, our relationships having changed from single friends to spouses and parents and homeowners. Our kids always did Halloween together on Lamont Street in Mt. Pleasant, although our celebrations were much tamer than the parties we used to attend.

    Beth and Steve and girls were able to make a trip up to Nantucket a few years ago, while I was pregnant with Kyle and once again, the kids had a great time together and something I hope Steve will continue to do with the girls in the future. The day I called Beth to tell her that Kyle was born was the day she told me her cancer had metastasized. She didn’t want to tell me on such a happy day, but I’m glad she did. I’ll never forget the complicated emotions of that day.

    Last April I turned 40 and in May so did my husband and a bunch of friends so we had a big party in DC so we could spend it together. Beth was thin but beautiful, and there was still so much light in her eyes. She was feeling good that week so we had a great visit.

    I love that my relationship with Beth has spanned so many years in which we our lives changed so much. We had great times just the 2 of us, or with big group outings and we matured and fell in love and got married and bought houses and had babies and raised children together. I love that we shared so much of that together and the thought of losing her is heartbreaking. I hope our children will always be friends and I will do everything I can to keep her alive in their hearts and minds as well.


  9. Calebon 25 Aug 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I first came to POGO as an intern back in 2003, and returned four years later as an investigator in 2007. I was proud to become, and am still happy to be a member of the POGO family. With the loss of Beth, I feel like I have lost that crazy aunt who always pinches your cheeks and buys you ugly reindeer sweaters for Christmas. She was a huge part of both of my stops at POGO, and a huge part of the reason I fell in love with the place. She was always sweet and encouraging but never afraid to smack me upside the head when I needed it. I can’t imagine POGO without her and it pains me that I didn’t get to see her again. My heart goes out to her ohana, both biological and POGO-gical.

  10. Jesselyn Radackon 25 Aug 2010 at 4:53 pm

    My heart and prayers go out to Beth’s family. I met her when I was in the throes of my own whistleblower ordeal, and she inspired me to dedicate my life to whistleblowers.

    More recently, we had been professional counterparts.

    Beth may not have changed the world, but she definitely shoved it in the right direction.

  11. Todd Bowerson 25 Aug 2010 at 6:06 pm

    I remember when I first came into contact with POGO. I still had the grit of Iraq behind my ears, the confusion of reintegration overwhelming my mind and a body that was worn out. There were a few months when I had no idea what to do with myself. My student loans had run out so school was no longer an option. The congressman I had worked for was no longer in office. My social life was less than existent. It was a tough time in my life and one of first times I ever felt that I was not making a difference in the world.

    The bright light that is POGO came into my life out of nowhere. I was forwarded a job announcement from a friend regarding an opening for government oversight work. As I read through the job listing for a defense investigator I thought to myself “I can’t do this at all.” But as I read more about POGO and the work they do I realized that I had been a defense investigator for years and didn’t even know it through all of my military experiences and observations. As I clicked through the POGO website and read reports, memos and blogs about corrupt defense contractors all of the content had a unifying theme. Beth. She was the backbone of everything that motivated me to apply for the job.

    I think it was a Tuesday afternoon in February when I went in for the interview. I sat at the conference table with a majority of the POGO staff staring at this young, confused, and in many ways, disheveled Marine. I really wanted the job, but the intimidation was overwhelming and I thought I was going to blow it. As I scanned the room I looked for a face of inspiration. A face that I could confide in and make a connection to. I saw Scott who gave that lawyer dead mans stare- no go. I looked at Peter who I thought wanted to reach across the table and choke me- no go. Danielle and Keith were there too but they were the head honchos- no go. Then there was this smiling face looking back at me. Black curly hair that made me smile. Glasses that made me know she was a bright as her smile. It was Beth- good to go.

    It was one of the proudest moments in my life when I was hired. I knew POGO took a chance with this young Marine and wanted to contribute to POGO as much as I could. But I also knew that my contributions would be dwarfed by what I was going to learn from new colleagues. My lessons in government oversight, defense contracting and transparency all came down to Beth. From the first day I walked in the door, that same smile was always there to answer questions and teach me. Beth taught me how hard work can pay off. She taught me that taking the time to get everything right and then sharing it with the world actually can make a difference. More importantly, she taught me that just one voice can make a difference.

    I do not think there is a day when I look back at my life and do not think of my time at POGO. And for me, POGO is Beth. All of her wisdom, hard work and passion has taught me that life is the greatest gift from the world and what we do with it is the greatest gift to the world.

    I don’t know where I would be right now without Beth being a part of my life.

    To you Beth, I will and always will be, Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful) to making this world a better place.

  12. Kelli Baldwinon 26 Aug 2010 at 7:58 am

    Beth was such a kind and inspirational person, not only for her dedicated work ethic to POGO, but also for the way in which her love for her family and for her girls was so obvious when she spoke of them. I was only an intern with POGO for a short while, but I will always remember the warm and caring woman she seemed to be–and at the same time a model of strength in how she handled her illness. My deepest condolences to her family.

  13. Lisa Baumgartner Bondson 26 Aug 2010 at 10:09 am

    When I look through photos of my 15 year journey in DC, there is one person in almost all of them: Beth D. I know it’s selfish, but, when she died on Sunday morning, I felt like a huge piece of my life was ripped away–my heart broke, literally.

    I haven’t known life — personal and professional — in DC without Beth. We played together, travelled together, worked together, and began to become adults together. Although I feel blessed to have had as much time as I did with Beth, it wasn’t enough damn it.

    Beth shaped my career and turned me on to nonprofit work. We served as each other’s career and life advisors and I am going to be lost without her. Beth was the first person that told me to embrace my horrible impatience–she let me know that it would be essential to the work I do. She was right.

    Beth wasn’t always “easy” to be with or work with. I am quite sure that I will never know anyone as stubborn as she was. In return for her insight that my impatience was a gift, I was able to help Beth embrace her outrageous, incredible, impenetrable stubbornness. Not many people could make such a difficult quality–being wildly stubborn–into a gift from the angels–but Beth certainly did.

    One story from my “times with Beth” file epitomizes who she was to me and many others… We spent 3 fabulous weeks together in Italy. One of our goals while there was to climb Mt. Vesuvius. 99.9% of the people who climb Mt. Vesuvius drive half way up the volcano, park their car, and walk up the short, easy, lovely paved trail to the summit–in about 15 minutes. Not Beth Daley.

    Beth insisted that we not join those boring lemmings — we would see more and enjoy everything more if we blazed our own trail. She had read about an almost secret, impossible to find and follow trail on the back side of Vesuvius. You didn’t argue with Beth in situations like this, so, off we went. After about four arduous, hot, sweaty, righteous and beautiful hours–we reached the summit. The park ranger dude saw us come up the less populated side of the volcano and came over to see if we were ok. He told us that almost no one climbed that way without getting lost or injured. Beth threw her head back and laughed (if you knew her, you know that the laugh was distinctive) a huge laugh. The ranger said that each year, almost 500,000 people “climb” Mt. Vesuvius the easy way. When Beth asked how many people each year climb the better, more stunning way he replied, “Two. Usually crazy Americans like you.”

    That’s classic Beth — blazing trails, never afraid of what it might take to live in the better way — no matter how hard it might be. She knew the truth and she lived it: good things, things worth fighting for were always more difficult, painful, heartbreaking, beautiful and meaningful and rewarding.

    Thanks Beth for you love, your laughter and your life. While I still refuse to imagine life without you, us BOARs are going to all we can to make sure that your work, your laughter, your stubbornness and spirit lives on…

    XO Dearie, Lisa B.

  14. Maripage Grubicon 26 Aug 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Beth and I were housemates with 6 other people in a fantastic Mt. Pleasant row house around 1996. Over the years our friendship drifted, as sometimes they do in life. We stayed in touch periodically, but hadn’t seen one another in many years. Still Beth was one of those friends one never forgets.

    The things I remember best about Beth are her confidence and passion, she could really stand her ground in a debate, she always had a smile on and appreciated a good laugh, she was determined and driven and no-one could boss her around. And she could kick-ass at pool. Even after a few margaritas. (I learned early to never play against the woman…she was a shark!)

    Beth is/was an inspiration… a tough, strong woman, not afraid to fight to do the right thing, who didn’t apologize for her power in her work space, entirely Feminine and Woman, with an ability to teach, to love and to inspire others to do their best.
    Beth leaves a remarkable legacy of which her daughters and family should be so proud. And I hope to god one of her daughters inherited her cut-throat, kicking-ass, game of pool.

  15. Janis Ford Ahernon 26 Aug 2010 at 11:36 pm

    I’m heartbroken for Beth’s parents, sister, husband and daughters. I can tell by reading the wonderful, heartfelt posts above how much she was loved. I hadn’t seen Beth since she was a young lady. Steve and Georgeanna were dear friends of my girls’ father and me.

    I’m now living in NH and my Neice is Danni above. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found Beth on Danni’s facebook page. Now my heart is broken for this wonderful, loving family. It sounds like she has really left her mark on the world and in the hearts of those who knew her well. I am so sorry.

  16. Nate Meyeron 27 Aug 2010 at 11:49 am

    I wish I knew Beth better… Sadly, she was out of the office during most of my time at POGO. The few times that I did interact with her were times that she brought her daughters to the office too, and they were wonderful. When they were in the office, both Beth and her daughters brought even more life into what was already a vibrant environment. I know that she will be missed by everyone at POGO.

  17. Debbie Katzon 27 Aug 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Writing about Beth is a very daunting task. I am a lawyer. I write short, declarative statements for a living. Not good enough. For Beth, i want to write like Pablo Neruda. Something like Ode to a Beautiful Woman or Ode to a Mother Who Fought So Hard for Her Girls or Ode to a Warrior.

    In my grief, i have thought a lot about how best to honor Beth’s life — and how to be more of what Beth was — tenacious, and audacious and bold and brave and committed and funny. Very, very funny. Her laugh was infectious. Her humor was smart and bodacious. How can I — how can we — carry on where she left off — with her work, with her friends, with her vision of the world?

    We did good work together. And we had tremendous fun doing it. Beth loved fighting the good fight. She was always smart and strategic. Beth was always so generous with her time and attention that it was humbling. She delighted in and adored her girls and did everything in her power to be with them as long as possible. She loved her husband. She loved her life.

    The fact that she is no longer with us is cruel and wrong. And frankly, i am furious that breast cancer continues to be the scourge that it is and that it continues to claim the lives of our friends and lovers and mothers and wives and children. And that it has claimed the life of our wonderful friend Beth Daley. In closing, i want Traci and Ginger to know that their mom was beloved and special to so many of us. When i think of her, i think of a poem by Marge Piercy called “To Be of Use.” Here it is:

    To Be of Use

    By: Marge Piercy

    The people I love the best
    jump into work head first
    without dallying in the shallows
    and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
    They seem to become natives of that element,
    the black sleek heads of seals
    bouncing like half-submerged balls.

    I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
    who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
    who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
    who do what has to be done, again and again.

    I want to be with people who submerge
    in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
    and work in a row and pass the bags along,
    who are not parlor generals and field deserters
    but move in a common rhythm
    when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

    The work of the world is common as mud.
    Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
    But the thing worth doing well done
    has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
    Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
    Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
    but you know they were made to be used.
    The pitcher cries for water to carry
    and a person for work that is real.

    Even at the end — when Beth was very, very sick and all treatments had failed — she insisted that she was lucky. She truly appreciated the life she had. I am very sorry that it was cut so short. I join a large community in saying that I miss her terribly.

    My condolences to you — Steve, Traci and Ginger; and to everyone else who had the good fortune to have Beth in their lives and feels the pain of her absence.

  18. Glenn Walpon 28 Aug 2010 at 10:19 am

    In 2002, when Steve Doran and I were experiencing some trying personal times, I had the blessing to communicate with Beth on many occassions. She was always kind, considerate and understanding, and did much to help Steve and I through our turbulent times; more then she knew. Always listened, always understood, always cared, and it all came from her loving and sensitive heart. She is missed indeed, but I know she now rests in the bosom of the Almighty, in her most deserved peace and comfort.

    My deepest sympathies to her loved ones who await on this earth until the day they are reunited with their beloved Beth.

  19. Laura MacKenzieon 28 Aug 2010 at 2:47 pm

    As a group house for 30 years+ 1854 Wyoming earned a reputation for housemates having interests in causes to improve the world in some way. From when it first began as an anti-Viet Nam war group, people who lived there over the years worked or volunteered for to antiapartheid, The Guardian, anti-nuclear issues, children in need, the earth, and on. Beth joined as one of nine. She was as passionate for her causes as she was about having fun and certainly added much creativity to the Halloween Parties and fund raisers for various groups held in 1854. I saw her only once after she moved on, in a food store, with her two darling, rambunctious girls. She looked so beautiful and still had those sparkling eyes. I heard about her death through a mutual old housemate friend and was deeply saddened. As I read through her obituary and all the annectdotes above, I am amazed at how much life she crammed into her short one. My heart goes out to her family; I am sure she will be so proud of her daughters’ life choices as she was supportive of ours.

  20. Charlie Crayon 31 Aug 2010 at 11:17 am

    I am still stunned. This is a big loss for the community of activists and contract reform advocates.

    Although I didn’t work closely with Beth, the few times I recall leaning on her for help revealed how persistent and clear-minded she could be.

    My condolences to Steve and the family, as well as Beth’s colleagues at POGO.

  21. James Grimaldion 02 Sep 2010 at 12:48 pm

    My sincere condolences to Beth, her family and her Pogo colleagues and to all who knew and worked with Beth. While her loss is painful, her legacy lives on in POGO. We will remember Beth for her commitment to seeking the truth and justice for those who have the courage to expose the truth.

  22. Ralph Scotton 03 Sep 2010 at 8:06 am

    I got to know Beth during the campaign she helped lead to save Klingle Valley a few years ago. She was an inspiring leader who often opened up her home for strategy meetings. Everything others say here about her warmth, humor, dedication and professionalism was evident, even in this completely voluntary struggle. Lots of cold hours collecting petitions on street corners in Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan and elsewhere and hot afternoons picketing City Hall and working street fairs. I have a nice photo of Beth dressed up as a tree from this period. We were sure we’d lost that campaign several times before we finally won it. It takes a special kind of person to keep fighting when it looks like defeat is almost certain. The city and the world will miss Beth deeply.

  23. bryanon 03 Sep 2010 at 9:18 am

    Wanted to share this piece on Beth by POGO Founder Dina Rasor:


  24. Denise Woodson 20 Sep 2010 at 8:12 am

    Beth, will always be remembered for her fire and brimstone that could light up the world and create good out of ash! Though I have not seen her in 20 years reading about her leaves memories crashing through my brain and I mourn her death and the loss to the good fight. She did more than most do in a life time and with twins. I hold them and her husband in my heart. She was not perfect as no one is, but pretty damn close. Her spirits is still rocking the world. Thank you Beth for all you have done to make the world a world a place you daughters would want to live in. They are blessed in so many ways.

  25. Marie-Louise Clarkon 06 Jan 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Just learning of Beth’s passing now; I knew she was near the end of her battle.

    In honor of Beth Marie Daley: a true friend, activist and one of the smartest and most compassionate human beings I’ve known. I am touched by Beth’s committment to her work and how it made such a diiference for people. As you all know, she loved her work and her cause did not go unnoticed.

    I now live on the west coast, so I did not know Beth as a Mother or wife, but I am sure she pulled that role off as well as she did all others with a loving smile and infused with laughter. Beth made people feel cared for because her heart and spirit were big enough to look beyond herself and walk in other peoples’ shoes.

    We met in DC in our ealry 30’s. She was my neighbor and friend. She and I and a bunch of other friends would gather weekly to make dinner, party, laugh and watch movies together. I rememebr one of her specialities was chicken and a blues cheese dressing salad with fancy lettuce. She was a gourmet.

    Beth was beautiful inside and out. We called her Elizabeth after the famous E. Taylor. I also traveled across country a decade ago with here. She was easy going and I remember always willing to admit her fobiles (which seemd like very few and minor). Beth’s life and her unfortunate passing inspire me to be a better person, step out of focusing on my own little problems and to be grateful. She was taken way to young. Think of how much more she would have done in her career and personal life! The world is at a loss. Blessing to her daughters, husband, family and many colleaugues and friends. No forgetting Beth!

  26. Douglas Kinanon 31 Mar 2011 at 8:05 am

    I didn’t know Beth Daley, but I do know of her strength and struggle because my wife contracted breast cancer at the age of 29 and died in 1983, at the young age of 36.

    One thought that comes to mind is how such a bright light, Beth Daley, who was blessed with enormous quality and goodness and a desire to make this world a better place had to leave, while so many low character individuals flourish and thrive off the misery they intentionally create for others.

    To those of you who knew her, you were just plain lucky to have such a friend. To those of us who didn’t know her, we were lucky too, to have her on our side.

    Condolences to her family. There is no doubt that she left her indelible high quality character traits in the hearts and minds of her children.


  27. Jonathan M. Eisenbergon 12 Jul 2012 at 1:06 am

    When I was a junior in college in spring 1991, I was an intern for the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, where I met Beth, then a permanent staffer there. She was so committed to social justice…and so, so much fun to work with. Beth made me fall out of my chair laughing at her witty comments and stories that I still remember. I stayed in contact with Beth for a few years, but then fell out of touch…but, of course, could never forget her. So charismatic and smart and vibrant; the kind of person who naturally makes everybody around her happier. I looked Beth up on the Internet a few days ago, to try to get back in touch after many years, and I learned that she’s gone from this world. Wow, is that hard to believe. It really is. She was so good. I give my deepest condolences to her family.

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