The Russert Example
I, like most people who heard the mournful news of Tim Russert’s early death, was profoundly saddened. I did not know Tim personally, but I learned about him from my daughter, who has been one of his technical managers at NBC news for the past three years. Marsha, like all her co-workers, loved Tim because of the kind of person he was. She would tell us that he is the same person on and off the air — a big, jovial, huggable teddy bear with superior intelligence, curiosity and driving energy. He was the leader, the friend, the mentor, the essence of the Washington news bureau.
About three Christmases ago, my daughter gave me Tim’s book, “Big Russ and Me.” I read it and marveled at the similarities of some of our early lives. I am older, of course, but I did share walking to school on snowy days, doing chores, shoveling snow, and working on garbage trucks in my teens. I made mention of these similarities to my wife and daughter and said I should write Tim a letter someday. Well, I didn’t write then, but I did this past March after reading his book again. I sealed the envelope with my letter and a news article about Marsha’s management of the Olympics curling venue in Salt Lake in 2002. I called my daughter and told her I was sending Tim’s letter to her and she was to give it to him sealed.
After receiving the letter, Marsha obediently delivered the sealed message to Tim. She approached him with the greeting, “Would you indulge me? I have a letter from my father for you and I have no idea what he has said. You have to understand that he is a little off the wall at times.”
Tim’s immediate response was, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” They laughed and went their separate ways.
Less than a week later, I received this short note from Tim thanking me for my letter. Here’s a guy, busier than a one-armed paper hanger who has gone face-to-face with world celebrities, taking time to jot me a personalized note.
Like everyone who reminisced about Tim this past week, I know he was the “real thing.” He was smart, gracious, grounded, humble, caring, and not too busy to indulge my daughter by reading my two-page letter and news article and then penning me a thank-you note. It’s hard to imagine such respect and courtesy in today’s world.
Tim had smarts, values, morals, manners and empathy for others. He had respect and honest concern and feelings for his fellow human beings. Would it not be nice if out of this tragedy, we humans in this country and around the world adopt Tim Russert’s example of how to behave and contribute to the world in which we live. I pray this will happen. God bless Tim Russert for his examples.
Estes Valley resident