We lost a true gem today

It’s a little after 4pm on a Friday, and although I have no boss and can leave the office whenever the heck I want, I’m still here, working, and preparing to have a beer or two on a balcony in our building, which happens to be 2 blocks from the beach here in Ventnor, NJ.

I’m feeling good 20 minutes ago, but then I got some horrible news. One of my all-time favorite human beings, Tim Russert, has died. I’m pretty shaken up by this because this country and our society will never be the same. I wrote once that I didn’t even know for sure what political party Russert belonged to – and that was why I loved the guy so much. Maybe he leaned to the left because of his blue-collar background, I’m not sure, but I found him to be the last of a dying breed, a throwback, and a legitimately objective political reporter. I see no reason to watch any political commentary on TV now, at least not right this very moment. And I think we’ll be hard-pressed, in this day and age, to ever again come across such an extraordinary political pundit. He was the best, and by an incredibly large margin.

I also found him to be an incredible person, and I’ve read parts of both of his books about his father and fathers in general, Big Russ and Me and The Wisdom of our Fathers, trying to mine some pearls of wisdom for raising my own four kids, and I definitely did. That he died so close to Father’s Day is one of the saddest ironies I can recall.

An avid sports and Buffalo Bill fan, Russert was the truest of true patriots, an American in literally every single sense of the word. He was a model husband, father, journalist, broadcaster, and person. I’ll never forget when I first really took a liking to Russet, back in 2000. It was football season, and I was up late working, of course. It was also election night, and there was a small controversy about Florida and who won the Presidential Election. Deep into the night, at late as 4am, Russert was brilliant in laying out the situation for all Americans to digest. He was a great interviewer not afraid to ask the tough questions, and he had a way about him that completely transcended party lines and ideologies. When you watched Russert at work, it was about America, not an elephant or a donkey.

Honestly, if I had to think of one celebrity when I woke up this morning that I would NOT want to see pass away today, Tim Russert might have been my choice.

We lost a true gem today, my friends.

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5 Responses

  1. ranger764 says:

    Well said John. I truly enjoyed Tim Russert’s reporting and found him to be fair and informative. He will be missed!

  2. GregR210 says:

    Nice work. While I knew very little about Russert and his work, I know this. His son was very lucky, and so were we. After seeing the vast multitude of interviews with his colleagues, you felt like you’d known him for years, even if you never followed politics or knew who he was before his untimely passing. He was a great American, and just as important, a great human being. He will be missed.

    On that note, if you can still talk to your old man, be sure to give him a shout tomorrow. I’m sure he will appreciate it.

    Happy Father’s Day to you if are a dad.

    Best regards to all.

  3. georgedp says:

    I liked Tim Russert and was saddened by the news as well. I remember while he was promoting Big Russ and Me, he told a funny story about bumping into Scott “Wide Right” Norwood in an airport. Scott went up to Russert and said, “Mr. Russert, I want to introduce myself. I’m Scott Norwood.” Tim said good naturedly, “Scott, I know who you are. I think about you every night.” He will be missed.

  4. fred says:

    I’m a big John Hansen fan and have been a subscriber for years. I was an even bigger Tim Russert fan. I totally agree with John and thought that I would share what I had posted on my blog yesterday. I’ve pasted it below.

    I think it very apropos that I would launch my blog paying tribute to one of the great men of our time. A man of honor. A man of the highest integrity. He was not a world leader or a hall of fame athlete, but I would venture to guess that he touched the lives of millions of people, and touched them in such a way as to make them better. I know he touched mine.

    Learning of Tim’s death this past Friday was shocking news. Though I didn’t watch his show regularly, he seemed to be on TV a lot. He was certainly a fixture on any political news of the day, and in times such as these with an election just around the corner, there was news everyday. Though I didn’t know him personally, I still felt like I “knew” him anyway. Tim had that kind of personality. You could feel a connection to him right through the TV screen. It’s hard to imagine the upcoming debates and election process without him right in the middle, explaining it all to us. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine even Sunday mornings without him going forward. I loved Tim’s happy exuberance and strong work ethic. He was a very thorough, very prepared interviewer and moderator. I will miss him greatly.

    It makes me appreciate the time I have now with my family for I strongly admired how Tim was a dedicated family man. In dealing with the complexities of life and politics, one of Tim’s greatest gifts was the ability to keep things simple. He could reduce the most complex of issues to their simplest form and explain them in a way that everyone could understand. Not many people are blessed with this gift.

    Above all else, and the quality I most admire in Tim Russert, was that he was not ashamed of his faith. I think the reason he had such a happy demeanor and seemed to always be smiling, was his trust in God. He was cognisant of his blessings and knew that his eternal place was secure. In spite of all the recognition he enjoyed and the success he had in life, Tim always stayed humble. He never got caught up in things grand – though he could have. What made Tim so appealing to so many people is that he stayed “down-to-earth”. Tim, you will truly be missed.

    I want to end this post remembering that Tim Russert was an encourager to all people. He was often quoted as telling his colleagues to “go get em”. This inspires me to want to “go get em” in everything I do. And if I could have just a fraction of Tim’s work ethic and zeal, using his life as my inspiration, I am certain I could move mountains.

  5. GregR210 says:

    Well said, Fred. Thank you for sharing.

    Go Get ‘Em

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