After his sudden death last Friday, he’s become larger than life.
After his sudden death last Friday, he’s become larger than life. And I for one miss him. I didn’t know Tim Russert, of course. But every Sunday morning I have timed my 10K run to end just as his “Meet the Press” was beginning. And for a few sweaty moments with my Sunday paper and breakfast, I would listen in on the celebrated journalist’s gentlemanly grilling of another public figure or two or three. “If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press” was my preference, too. And, as it turns out, millions of Americans enjoyed the same weekly ritual. The accolades for Russert continue to pour in. What made this man so “familiar” with the public, and so beloved by his friends? What can those who “knew” him learn from his life? I sat down last Sunday and scribbled some random reflections. Live the joy of your life to the full each day. I was amazed at how many of his colleagues and acquaintances testified to the contagious exuberance with which Russert lived. He loved his work. He loved his work associates, from the veterans to the rookies in the Washington bureau. And he exuded it. What if we all did? Keep in touch with your roots and your family. Much has been made about his loyalty to the blue-collar neighborhood of Buffalo where he grew up. His best-selling book about his dad continues to speak volumes about Russert’s love for those dearest to him. And what’s so obvious is that Tim made certain his affections were obvious, too. On-air and off-air. On the phone to his boy two or three times a day. Everyone loved him for it. Celebrate the lives of your friends and acquaintances. If he knew you, and you were having a baby or surgery or mourning a loss, Russert was there to share the journey. Scribbled notes, little gifts, a visit, a phone call—apparently he made sure those he cared about knew he cared. What’s not to like about that? Do your homework. Russert was renowned for his early Sunday morning rehearsals alone in the studio. He read his questions aloud, imagined his guest’s responses, planned his rebuttal queries. He didn’t tolerate a lack of preparedness in his guest or himself. Mentor the young. I was intrigued at how many of television’s well-known reporters cut their eye teeth under Russert’s tutelage. He invested time and attention in the new team members, constantly exhorting them to pursue excellence. Share your devotion to your God and your church. The whole world knew Tim Russert was a faithful Roman Catholic. He didn’t keep it a secret. It was clear he was proud to be a member of his church, and unashamed to display his faith in God. True, he wasn’t an evangelical missionary. Yet in the world of hardball politics and journalism, Russert lived his faith. Would that there were more of him these days, wouldn’t you agree? Was he a saint? Hardly. But in a world where so many live such isolated and self-serving lives, here was a man who is being remembered for the very opposite. And in the eyes of God, isn’t that a value heaven celebrates, too?