In memory of the life and career of Timothy J. Russert, an American original
American Journalist, father, son, husband, author and friend to many, Tim Russert, passed away on Friday, June 13, after having a massive heart attack while at work in his office at the NBC News Center in New York City.
Tim Russert was the author of two best selling books about fathers and sons and fathers and daughters. His first book, "Big Russ and Me: Father and Son--Lessons of Life," is the story of Mr. Russert and his father, "Big Russ," and the lessons he learned from his dad.
Tim Russert's second book, "Wisdom of our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons," which he wrote as the result of the tens of thousands of letters he received from sons and daughters who read his book about "Big Russ," is full of stories from American sons and daughters about their fathers.
These two books introduced Tim Russert to millions of Americans (and people from many countries internationally as the books were published outside the U.S.) who only knew him as the journalist who hosted the Sunday morning news interview program Meet the Press or appeared on NBC election night return broadcasts and in other broadcast news venues.
Meet the Press is the longest running television program of any kind in the U.S. Mr. Russert was its longest running host, until his sudden death on Friday.
Russert was an "everyman" as a person and journalist, even though he obtained fame and an annual salary in the millions. He often said--and lived it--that when he was interviewing a U.S President, Secretary of Defense or other powerful political leader, the questions he asked were those he believed his blue collar dad, "Big Russ," and the folks back home in Buffalo, New York would want the answers to. Russert never forgot those Buffalo roots.
Tim Russert, a law school graduate and member of both the New York and Wahington D.C. bars, never practiced law. Instead, after law school he went to work for the famed intellectual and Senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan, where he rose to become the Senator's chief of staff. It's often said of Moynihan, who was a professor of Social Science before going into politics, that he'd written more books then all the other Senators at the time combined had read.
Later Russert would go to work for New York Governor Mario Cuomo (another intellectual heavy weight), before leaving a successful career in politics for the world of journalism, first as an executive at NBC News, then shortly after that as the network's Washington, D.C. news bureau chief and moderator of Meet the Press.
And it was there where Tim Russert shined. His love of politics was evident in every interview he did, every election night he covered. Russert was an example of how a love of ones work makes it not work at all.
You can read more about the life of Tim Russert here.
Today NBC devoted Meet the Press, Russert's Sunday program, to a remembrance of the journalist, leaving his moderator's chair empty. You can view that remembrance here, along with reading more about Tim Russert. There also are links to Tim Russert's two favorite charities, The Boys and Girls Club of America and Catholic Charities, at this link, as well as a guestbook where if you choose you can write your condolences to Tim Russert's wife Maureen, his dad "Big Russ," who is 89, and his son Luke, who just recently graduated from Boston College, with his proud father in attendance.
Tim Russert always ended Meet the Press each Sunday with this sign off: "If it's Sunday...it's Meet the Press.
For those of us who want to know what America's political leaders are doing in our name and with our tax dollars, Sundays won't be the same without Russert. He gave every high-profile political leader he interviewed each Sunday on the program a fair shake regardless of their respective political party. But he also showed them no prisoners, asking questions and following up in his trademark way. At the end of a Tim Russert interview, one generally learned one of two things: The real scoop, or that the person he was interviewing was not telling the truth.
Tim Russert's death, especially so close to Father's Day, should serve as a remembrance to father's, sons and daughter's alike to grab all you can from and with each other, as life is fickle, and death can come suddenly.
Cartoon by Gary Varvel, Indystar.com