A Local Life: Amber Scholtz

Once Capital's It Girl, But Much More

Eric Fox described his wife, Amber Scholtz, shown in 1975, as
Eric Fox described his wife, Amber Scholtz, shown in 1975, as "eternally young and dynamic." She kept her age a secret from all, including him. (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
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By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2008

Amber Scholtz was tall, blond, perfectly dressed and, by all accounts, one of the most attractive women in Washington.

"She was more than striking," longtime friend Jane Cafritz recalled. "She was absolutely beautiful. She would walk into a room, and heads would turn."

She and her husband, Eric Fox, had an apartment in Paris, where they spent several months a year, and they traveled the world in search of adventure. They entertained celebrities at home -- there's a photograph somewhere of Luciano Pavarotti kissing Scholtz's hand -- and Scholtz did the cooking.

Yet to have been blinded by her undeniable glamour was to have missed Scholtz's remarkable reserves of generosity, friendship, wit and warmth.

"Amber had more friends than anyone I have ever known," one of those friends, Ann Bauleke, recalled. "She was stunning and glamorous and gorgeous, and at the same time I felt more like myself around her than around anyone else. And I'm pretty much a plain Jane from Minneapolis."

Early in her life, Scholtz was something of a plain Jane who found her way in Washington by luck, charm and a strong capacity for hard work. She was a student at Syracuse University when she came to Washington in the late 1960s for an internship with New York senator Charles E. Goodell (R).

She immediately knew it was the city where she belonged and transferred to George Washington University. After graduating in 1970, she worked for Rep. John G. Dow (D-N.Y.), then became a low-level lobbyist with the United Mine Workers, making $14,000 a year. (She later sued the UMW for sex discrimination, settling out of court.)

Without pedigree or wealth, she was a fixture at Capitol Hill and embassy parties and became a hopeful, bright-eyed symbol of post-Watergate Washington. In 1975, she was the subject of a long, not entirely flattering profile in The Washington Post.

"She is sexy. She is 26," the story gushed. "She is one of the few women under 30 anybody can remember seeing on the party circuit."

For a time, Scholtz was the capital's It Girl. She was squired about by former Argentine ambassador Alejandro Orfila and by at least three congressmen, including Rep. Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey (R-Calif.), for whom she worked from 1975 to 1983.

Some of her friends wondered whether she was simply on the prowl for a rich husband, but behind the popping flashbulbs and arched eyebrows, there was a simpler truth. Amber Scholtz, a veterinarian's daughter from Pearl River, N.Y., found Washington an exciting place where she could blossom.

The most revealing passages of The Post profile of Scholtz as a young ingenue were not about her beaus or her plunging necklines, but her own simple words:

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